Public affairs guru and former Republican staffer Tom Horner Tuesday officially proclaimed himself an Independence Party candidate for governor.

He said the Republican party moved away from him and both Democrats and Republicans are too extreme.

"I've stayed right here... It is the Republican party that has moved way out there," Horner said. He said he would run in a primary if he does not get the IP endorsement at this weekend's convention. He called Republican-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer "the most conservative candidate to ever run for governor."

His former boss, U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger, was on hand to support Horner's bid as was 2002 IP gubernatorial candidate Tim Penny. Durenberger said he still considers himself a Republican but he's backing Horner. Penny is a former Democratic U.S. House member. Horner himself has voted on both sides of the political fence in the last decade -- he voted for Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2002 (when Penny ran) but voted for Democratic President Barack Obama in 2008.

"The compelling choice in 2010 is this: Will we continue the same political fights of the last eight years -- Democrats and Republicans fighting over who is right rather than doing what is right?" Horner said at the start of a 45-minute news conference.

Horner aimed to stake out the middle ground on most issues during his maiden campaign news conference. He called himself a "fiscal conservative" who is willing to look at both lowering and raises taxes; he refused to chose a "pro-life" or "pro-choice" moniker but said most state laws do little to reduce abortion and that he would not have signed the anti-abortion 2003 landmark law known to supporters as Women's Right to Know and he applauded the entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants but said boarder security must be strengthened while calling the new Arizona law on immigration "appalling."

Horner has been officially running since early this year. He said fundraising is going well -- but didn't reveal any fundraising numbers -- and that he expects to be able to afford campaign ads to boost his bid. He acknowledged that the Independence Party, which brought Gov. Jesse Ventura to power in 1998 in a different form, lacks the infrastructure of other parties but said his experience can make up for that.

"As much as I know policy, I also know politics," he said.