As the pro-business group, MN Forward, and its donors continue to catch flack for supporting Republican Tom Emmer, Independence Party candidate Tom Horner Friday offered an alternative: Pick me.

Tom Horner: Pick me/source: Star Tribune file photo

Tom Horner: Pick me/source: Star Tribune file photo

In his "open letter" to the director of MN Forward, Horner said he is a "pro-business" candidate.

"Of course," his letter to director Brian McClung says. "Maybe we define pro-business a bit differently."

Unlike Emmer, Horner, a former Republican staffer, hasn't forsworn any new taxes, which has been a hallmark of Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration.

Also unlike Emmer, Horner faces a potentially tough primary challenge within his party. IP candidate Rob Hahn is running for the party nod as well.

Here's Horner's complete letter:

Dear Brian:
Here I am.
MN Forward is seeking to support candidates of any stripe who are pro-business. That's me. In fact, I think I am the MOST pro-business candidate in this year's gubernatorial race.  Of course, maybe we define pro-business a bit differently. I think a pro-business candidate is one who supports an economic environment in which start-up businesses can flourish, well-paying jobs are being created in the private sector, and Minnesota is seen as a great place for all businesses -- those already here and those we want to attract -- because it's a great place to live.
You see, I think the business climate in Minnesota isn't just about which candidate will cut spending the most or who has the most strident anti-tax rhetoric. But for Minnesota to flourish -- for ALL Minnesotans to do well -- the state needs the kind leadership that successful business leaders understand: the importance of investing in people and making our state one in which the hard work of all people is rewarded, the talents of everyone are respected and the opportunities for all people are not capped by prejudice.
So here's my pro-business agenda:
•    Balance the budget. This will take hard decisions and significant spending cuts. It also will take the discipline other candidates have lacked to say NO to special interests, even if YES might buy some short-term political cover.
•    Reform a tax system that is out-of-date and suppresses job creation. I am the only candidate who is proposing a comprehensive package of tax reform -- reducing taxes on job creation while raising the revenue needed to invest in Minnesota's future.
•    Invest in Minnesota's future. We will be the knowledge state in my administration -- a state that makes early learning a priority so that all children enter school prepared for success. We will invest in lifelong learning, from cradle to grave. Along with education, Minnesota needs to once again make smart investments in health and our state's infrastructure.  It was noteworthy that at FarmFest -- talking to the drivers of one of our state's most important industries -- I was the only candidate who highlighted the need to invest in rail and 10-ton roads. A great harvest (or great manufactured products or great anything) loses its value if we can't get it to market.
•    Make applied and basic research at the University of Minnesota and our other institutions of higher learning a state priority. Minnesota must be a leader in innovation, new ideas and cutting-edge technologies. If we follow my tax proposals, research becomes the engine for ideas to come to market creating Minnesota businesses and Minnesota jobs.
•    Revitalize our communities. I've proposed a five-point plan to strengthen Minnesota's rural communities, making sure that every person in every community has the opportunity to prosper.
•    Streamline the regulatory and permitting process. In my administration, every permit request will be resolved in six months. Guaranteed.
•    Attract the best talent pool in the nation. Ultimately, Minnesota's greatest strength -- and our greatest pro-business asset -- are our people. We need to be a state that welcomes diversity.
That's my agenda, and I'm eager to compare it to the Minnesota agenda of any other candidate.
Tom Horner

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