Tuesday's Minnesota swing-state story by the Star Tribune's Kevin Diaz included the news that former Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Penny had announced "Minnesota Citizens for McCain,'' which is part of a national effort by independents and moderate Democrats who back the Republican presidential candidate. Penny's name adds credibility to the effort in Minnesota, where some polls indicate the race is tightening. I reached Penny Tuesday after he arrived back in Minnesota after a brief stop in Denver. (Penny, a guy who has always valued substance over style, said conventions really are not his thing.) Penny said he's supporting McCain because of his experience and his bipartisan legislative record. "With McCain, you've got a solid and consistent record of working across the aisle to get things done,'' said Penny, who ran for governor in 2002. "With Obama, you have the rhetorical promise of bringing us together and moving us forward, but nothing on the record to prove that he's ever done it.'' Penny said Minnesota remains very much in play. "I think it really comes down to which way the suburbs swing. As we know from four years ago, some suburbs -- Eagan, Edina -- could go either way.'' Penny, who lost the 2002 gubernatorial race to Tim Pawlenty, also said he thought it would be a mistake for McCain to select the Minnesota governor as his VP. "I've never quite understood what it is about him that raises him to national stature.'' Penny said McCain should surprise voters, and possibly risk irritating the Republican right wing, with an unconventional pick such as Tom Ridge or Carly Fiorina.