30 thoughts on “Underground is Not The Middle Ground

  1. PM says:

    OK, let’s be fair here–he has not yet gotten the coverage the other candidates have gotten, either.

    i agree that i haven’t heard much in the way of specifics from Horner, but i haven’t heard much at all from Horner.

    So i second your call for the media to really dig in and treat Horner like he is a real candidate–give him real coverage, and ask him real questions.

  2. I don’t know – the Independents in Minnesota practice a kind of anti-politics. Look – we’re not THEM! When Tim Penny was on MPR once I called up and asked whether the “center” wasn’t defined as the mid-point between two other points, and that, if the Republicans moved 10 notches to the right, would he move five? He laughed it off – but it is a serious point. It seems to be a point of view defined by others.

  3. Joe Loveland says:

    I’ve waited to write this for several weeks, but there is now quite a bit of stuff out there. Go ahead and Google the dozen or so articles out there telling you why Tom is running and what he’ll do. Strib, Minnpost, Pioneer Press, AP, etc. You’ll see a lot of “both sides have good ideas…I’ll bring them together and choose the best ideas.” You won’t see detailed answers. He’s been running for four months. It’s time. Because Tom is a bright guy who is extremely well versed on the issues, I have to conclude that he isn’t being pressed by reporters for anything beyond the happy hoo-ha.

  4. Mrs. Fay says:

    Shouldn’t it be part of a candidates job to get his or her solutions and positions out there? To make it easy for voters to know where they are coming from?
    Is it the media’s job to do this for the candidates?

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      You’re right, Mrs., but when candidates aren’t forthcoming with more than platitudes, it’s the reporter’s job to pry the specifics out of them. Every candidate prefers to be non-specific, because that old cliche is correct — the devil IS in the details. But voters need details to make good decisions, and so we need probing journalists, not just stenographers.

  5. Newt says:

    A nice guy Horner is. But you have to stand for something.

    He measures success in terms of legislative productivity (getting bills passed) – not by what the bills contain.

    This ought to frighten any discerning voter.

  6. Joe Loveland says:

    To give credit when credit is due, Horner did stand up against racial profiling today. From Sturdevant in the Strib:

    Emmer called Arizona’s action “a wonderufl first step” on Wednesday’s MPR radio Midday show. That prompted Independence Party candidate Tom Horner to ask: “What’s the second step — shoot them on sight?” Horner called Arizona’s action “at best appalling, and at worst, horribly worrying.” It’s also wildly inconsistent with the GOP’s espoused devotion to limited government.”

    Good for him. I look forward to lots more of that on many more issues.

    1. Newt says:

      From KPNX news today …

      PHOENIX – A veteran sheriff’s deputy was shot and wounded Friday after encountering a group of suspected illegal immigrants who apparently had been hauling bales of marijuana along a major smuggling corridor in the Arizona desert- a violent episode that comes amid a heated national debate over immigration.

      State and federal law enforcement agencies deployed helicopters and scores of officers in pursuit of the suspects after the deputy was shot with an AK-47 on Friday afternoon, and the search continued into the night. Deputy Louie Puroll, 53, had a chunk of skin torn from just above his left kidney, but the wound was not serious. He was released Friday night from Casa Grande Regional Medical Center.

      The shooting was likely to add fuel to an already fiery national debate sparked last week by the signing of an Arizona law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration in the state.

      Puroll was found in the desert after a frantic hourlong search, suffering from a gunshot wound, Pinal County sheriff’s Lt. Tamatha Villar said. The 15-year department veteran had been performing smuggling interdiction work before finding the bales of marijuana and encountering the five suspected illegal immigrants, two armed with rifles.

      “He was out on his routine daily patrol in the area when he encountered a load of marijuana out in the desert. He obviously confronted the individuals and took fire,” Villar told The Associated Press. “I was speaking with him just a bit ago, and he’s doing fantastic.”

      The deputy was alone about five miles from a rest stop along Interstate 8, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. The area is a well-known smuggling corridor for drugs and illegal immigrants headed from Mexico to Phoenix and the U.S. interior.

      “Over the past 12 months we’ve seen an increase in the amount of drugs, and an increase in violence that has been going on in this particular corridor,” Villar told KPNX.

  7. Newt says:

    Good, both Emmer and Horner agree that racial profiling and shooting on sight are wrong.

    But what do those crimes have to do with the AZ law?

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      I didn’t call or Twit Tom because my beef is with the longstanding trend of how political reporters give Independence Party candidates a pass. Candidates are going to stick with generalities as long as reporters let them stick with generalities. And reporters consistently let Independence Party candidates, both locally and nationally, stay in the clouds indefinitely.

      Maybe the IPers get a free pass because reporters don’t think IPers can win. Maybe they don’t press IPers because reporters naturally side with underdogs. Maybe it’s because reporters themselves often have a “both parties are full of it” cynical vibe, so they feel a kinship with the candidate going whole hog on that.

      But whatever the reason, reporters give IP candidates much less scrutiny about policy positions than they give to major party candidates. They give IPers too much scrutiny and questioning about horserace-related stuff (viability, spoiler potential, etc.), but not nearly enough scrutiny on policy positions.

  8. Eric Schubert says:

    I’m thinking your first “free pass” point is probably the main reason at this early point. Our major media are covering the horserace in the two major parties.

    As a Thissen turned Horner supporter, I’d love to see him get the coverage you’re talking about. I’m thinking it’ll come in the dog days, especially if the Dem. is viewed as weak, Minnesotans who used to be proud to be Republican want to vote again, and the MN Chamber sees that a Repub. this year would actually be bad for business. And if Tom gets the coverage you’re challenging media to, we’ll all benefit regardless of who wins.

    Take care.

  9. Joe Loveland says:

    I honestly have a hard time understanding how anyone can either be for or against Horner at this stage, unless you know him well enough to know his positions via friendly conversations over the years. There just isn’t enough information for a verdict.

    With IP candidates, we need news media policy scrutiny even MORE than we do with major party candidates, because issue positions more naturally come to the forefront in highly competitive and covered fights for major party nominations. But we get much less.

    And for what it’s worth, I’d welcome Tom to share his positions on the questions I posed in this space. Free and unfiltered.

  10. Ambrose Charpentier says:

    Horner doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually being elected governor. He is not a celebrity like Jesse Ventura. Only political nerds know who he is and only a few more will know by the time the election rolls around. He won’t raise the kind of money he’d need to run a major media campaign. What that means is he will end up being the spoiler for a major party candidate – most likely giving us someone like Tom Emmer for governor. Who does that serve? Is that what Horner wants? You have to wonder.

  11. Thank goodness for blogs, online journalism and inquiring minds. In my three months of campaigning, I’ve already done nearly a hundred forums, speeches and other events in which I’ve laid out very precise positions. And, I have engaged in extensive conversations with people in online posts (including previous conversations on this page) and through Facebook and other social media. And I welcome this opportunity. But first things first — to my friend Newt, Emmer and I are miles apart on the Arizona law and I do not measure success by the number of bills passed. Can’t imagine how anyone arrives at either of those conclusions.

    Here goes and my apologies in advance for the length, but it seems as if people feel my specificity has been lacking. By the way, everything below has been published, publicly state and generally available — and if there are additional questions, please ask:

    On health care, Minnesota isn’t going to a John Marty single-payer system. Even with large Democratic majorities in Minnesota and the federal government, there was not enough political support to achieve that goal. It’s not supported by the public.

    However, we must translate federal health reform into lower-cost, higher-quality care for Minnesotans. We do this by changing incentives to pay for quality and outcomes, not procedures (ICSI and other models are useful); by moving to more coordinated care models (Mayo, Fairview and others); and, by investing in prevention and personal responsibility (including continuing the state health improvement program).

    On the tax side, Minnesota needs to reduce the taxes that inhibit job creation. The challenge isn’t the political debate of businesses fleeing Minnesota, it’s that many Minnesota companies aren’t creating their jobs here. Yes, we need to reform the regulatory and permitting processes that take too much time and produce too little public benefit, but beyond that we need to reduce the corporate income tax, allow an exemption for some S-corp flow through, go further on providing incentives for risk capital and R&D investments, and reduce the capital gains tax.

    We make up the revenue by lowering the rate on sales tax and broadening the base, putting in place protections for low- and modest income Minnesotans. The sales tax better reflects today’s econonomy, it is less volatile than income taxes and produces more fairness — wealthy people buy more and are less able to avoid the tax.

    We also should increase the tobacco tax. There is no good public policy that supports cheap cigarettes.

    And, we need to look at the $11 billion in tax expenditures — the deductions, credits and other breaks — to bring them in line with the economy, with equity and with good tax policy. This will require us to eliminate some of the benefits that favor some people over others. For example, does it make sense to continue providing unlimited mortgage deductions for multiple homes in today’s economy?

    I don’t think raising the income tax is a good place to start in the search for new revenue. The sales tax — with safeguards against its regressivity — is less volatile and does a better job of investing the system with equity (wealthy people spend more). But also important is the reality that the income tax falls very heavily on small businesses.

    On the spending side, my proposals are a mix of investments (in education, especially in early childhood, and infrastructure, for example, promoting ultra-high-speed broadband statewide), reforms and cuts as noted in the following:

    The Association of Minnesota Counties has made several good proposals that I support. For example, county plows now life their blades when they reach a city street. State, county and city law enforcement don’t cooperate. Bringing cooperation and efficiency to these areas would save $275 million.

    Local Government Aid as it now exists has outlived its current structure, but not its underlying purpose. Every Minnesotan should have access to minimum levels of excellence in education, public safety and other basic services. LGA should be eliminated and replaced with a new formula that provides communities with resources specifically for these purposes. If cities want to fund neighborhood organizations — and I hope they do — they should be supported by local tax revenue, not state sharing. And, as we eliminate LGA, I would support eliminating the state-imposed levy limit on local governments. If local officials want to increase spending and are willing to be accountable to the public, then they should have the freedom to raise local taxes.

    The state is the largest purchaser of health care. Reforming how we purchase care and changing how the state reimburses providers could save an estimated $740 million — not by tossing the vulnerable on the street, as happened with the ill-advised changes in GAMC, but by doing things better and smarter.

    There are 3,000 units of government with taxing authority in Minnesota. Many of these are vestiges of days when transportation and technology posed different challenges. Merging, collaborating and combining can save significant public funds. One example — Minnesota could eliminate aid to counties by allowing a local option sales tax of a 1/2 cent. Counties would be free to impose it or not. They then would be accountable for money spent (or not spent) and would not have the enormous and costly burden of responding to state mandates.

    DEED has several overlapping training and jobs programs. They can be combined.

    We need to tackle the legacy costs of public employees, not by eliminating benefits already earned, but by working with new and future workers to make the same transition the private sector already has undertaken. But we need to do it collaboratively. One example — work with local school districts to raise the starting salaries of new teachers. Right now, many teachers enter the profession with huge college debt, they are paid $25,000-$30,000, often get assigned to the most challenging schools and have to spend money out-of-pocket to buy classroom supplies. Raise their salaries and work with Education Minnesota to transfer these new teachers from the current and very expensive defined benefits retirement plan to a defined contribution plan.

    We must look at all the subsidies, from JobZ to energy subsidies, from business incentives to the $11 billion in tax expenditures noted above to determine where we still are getting value (not politcal value, but economic value to the state) and eliminate those that don’t measure up.

    Minnesota should be a leader in developing green technologies, including new energy sources. The same innovation from the University of Minnesota that has opened new markets and uses for the state’s natural resources should be supported to find better ways to power our lives while respecting the environment. Green energy is a great opportunity – but it has to be developed in ways that don’t undermine the energy cost advantage Minnesota now enjoys and in ways that are fair to all Minnesotans, both those living in cities and those in rural and smaller communities.

    Minnesota should fund research at the U of M as a separate line item, not put in a mix with other higher education funding. If we create the risk capital through tax changes noted above, the research coming from the U can better be taken to market in Minnesota creating Minnesota jobs.

    Likewise, I would incrrease funding for the U-M/Mayo partnership. Right now, it’s about $7-$8 million. Bring it up to $25 million, change the tax code to create pools of investment capital, invest in science education and Minnesota would be well on its way to becoming the Silicon Valley of biosciences.

    I also strongly believe in early childhood investments. This area will be a priority.

    We also need to reform how Minnesota provides older adult services. Currently, we have a system very dependent on nursing homes and public funding (an average of $72,000 per year, two-thirds of which comes from state or federal funds). Four things — create a strong network of community-based services that will support older Minnesotans aging in place; invest in technologies that will modernize care facilities, improve outcomes and reduce costs; be open to innovations — including flexible licensure that would allow nursing homes to use some of their beds for less-intensive care — almost a “room-and-board” situation for those older Minnesotans who need monitoring and community living, but don’t need a skilled nursing facility or assisted living; and, finally, create incentives that encourage more personal savings and personal accountability for the cost of care.

    On issues like immigration and GLBT rights, Minnesota should be a welcoming state. Remove the statutory ways in which MN discriminates against same-sex couples while we move toward fuller equality in marriage. Demand accountability with state and federal laws, but recognize the huge assets new Minnesotans are creating through their investments in businesses, neighborhoods and our communities around the state.

    This is a lot for a post — and there are many more details behind each of these proposals. But let me stop here and offer to answer specific questions either here, through the web page — http://www.Horner2010.com — or Facebook — http://www.Facebook.com/Horner2010.

    And if you are still reading at this point, THANK YOU. You MUST be a Horner supporter to stick it out this far.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Many thanks. I’m impressed with the responsiveness, thoughtfulness and relative level of detail.

      Just one more…a perennial favorite in the blogosphere: Vikings stadium subsidies?

      1. Joe, I think the Vikings are too valuable of an asset and Minnesota is too smart of a state to not figure out a good solution to keep the team here. And, yes, that will involve subsidies of some kind. I don’t have a solution to what is the right level of public participation or how we get there, but I don’t buy the concept that we are a state that has to choose between essential services and our quality-of-life assets. We can do both.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Thanks again, Tom. My post was aimed at the news media, but my assumption, and my implication, also was that you were also steering the conversation towards generalties and not offering specifics. Based on what you’ve overed here, I think I was wrong about that part.

  12. And to Ambrose — My fundraising ability will be key, I agree. The good news is that it’s coming in at a rate that will allow me to launch an ad campaign immediately following the IP convention May 8. Minnesotans aren’t looking for celebrity this year, they are looking for solutions. Ventura won largely because Minnesotans rejected what they perceived were two out-of-touch politicians in Norm Coleman and Skip Humphrey. When Humphrey’s campaign fell to 28%, Ventura had the opening. By fall, this will be a two-person race between me and the Democratic candidate, with Emmer struggling at 25-30%.

  13. Eric Schubert says:

    Tom’s answer above is indicative as to why I support Tom Horner for Governor of Minnesota. A brain. A collaborator. Thoughtful. And not scared of stepping up to move ideas to reality, which we so need in this state now.

    1. “Tax your cabin” or “not not-tax your cabin”? Does the difference matter?

      More important, is “taxing your cabin” as entirely inexcusable as the MDE headline seems to imply?

  14. Newt says:

    A mushy left-center platform – large on government “investments,” light on economic reality. If holding office is important to Tom, might as well see if he can run as Entenza’s Lieutenant Gov.

  15. I love my friends from the wings — they think “investments” are mushy and a discussion of evaluating the $11 billion in expenditures leads them right to the unsubstantiated attack tht I am “eliminating the mortgage deduction on cabins.” Really??? Can’t you guys start addressing why Minnesotans should elect legislators who are leaving the next Governor a $7 billion shortfall and economic growth that has lagged the nation for much of this decade?

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      I can hear the soundbite: “Read my lips: No new broadening of the tax base without first reducing the tax burden on businesses that is keeping them from creating jobs in Minnesota staffed by the output of a newly reformed pre-K through grad school education system!”

      It flows off the lips and gets the emotions going.

    2. Newt says:

      There is no shortfall. It’s a spending problem. Are you telling us with a straight face that St Paul suffers from lack of resources – $31 BILLION biennial budget?

  16. Mike Maguire says:


    Good discussion. I heard Tom on MPR after the IP convention and thought he was doing nice job of giving some specifics. Yes pointing fingers at the extremes on both sides and the shortcomings of that as well, but I thought also offering some specifics on, for example, taxes. Seems to me he is taking the fiscally moderate positions of the DFL tax chairs to some extent and rejecting the notion(s) of new income tax tiers that I simply do not understand leadership’s insistence on running out there.

    MAK’s Gunyou selection, depending on the role he’ll play and profile they make, seems a reflection that the DFL is a little worried about Tom with MAK trying to capture his moderate DFLers in August but then have Gunyou emerge as someone who can appeal to those same moderates, out in larger numbers, in November. The strategy doesn’t just depend on DFL moderates swamping the primary, that’d be a pretty bad bet, but perhaps in coalition with labor I suppose.

    Any rate, to the point, I like you, am glad to see Tom running because I do think he’ll force more clarity and focus on issues over simple and simplified ideology. I just hope the press actually focuses on it as opposed to the horse race. It’s a trite complaint perhaps, but I think whether they press IP candidates, in particular, on the issues or give them ‘free passes’ seems a lesser worry than what the media does to make issues and the importance of them clear. I worry that the ones getting the more dangerous free pass is the audience who is entertained by the back-and-forth barbs as opposed to be educated and encouraged to truly recognize what kind of critical problems are facing this state.

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