Candidates running for governor didn’t hold back at the BringMeTheNews debate, co-sponsored by Politics in Minnesota, at the Minneapolis Pantages Theater Wednesday night.
The hour-long debate, which included multimedia questions via video, e-mail and Facebook, got into everything from the candidate’s budget plans to the Vikings stadium and even their “Achilles’ heels.”
DFL candidate Mark Dayton said he could handle the “pressure cooker” environment of the Capitol, even given his past bouts with alcoholism and depression. “I think that those experiences have made me a better leader because I understand the human condition and we all have our struggles and we all have our challenges,” he said. “And I think overcoming those has made me a stronger person, a better human being and, I believe, a better leader.”
GOP nominee Tom Emmer denied claims that he is on the far right of the political spectrum, saying he doesn’t thinks it’s “extreme” to believe in right and wrong or to “make people responsible for their actions.”
Independence Party candidate Tom Horner was questioned about his lack of a public voting record, and the fact that he wouldn’t carry the banner of either major party in the Legislature. Horner, a former Republican activist, said his years of civic engagement and owning a successful business gives him record enough to run the state, and only someone who’s truly independent of the two parties can find a solution to issues.
“How do they forge the consensus between Republicans and Democrats? I believe it is only an independent that can find that common ground that can broker that common sense solution between Democrats and Republicans,” he said.
Horner’s campaign is picking up speed in the final weeks before the general election. He made major gains in the recent KSTP/SurveyUSA poll, and has been hauling in the cash much faster than in the early months of his campaign. His performance at the debate was also the buzz of the after party.
Three undecided voters at the debate said they left leaning more towards Horner because of his clarity on proposals and his willingness to stand up to both Emmer and Dayton. “More than anyone up there, he really went after people with specifics about their plans and let them have it,” an observer said.
A Republican at the debate said he felt Emmer repeated himself a lot and Dayton gave muddy answers, but Horner took firm stand on issues like the budget and education and showed an impressive tenacity.
Several Democrats huddled after the event thought Horner “dominated” the debate, while Dayton “took a nap.”
“I feel like my vote belongs to Dayton because I am a Democrat and I want to vote for someone who can win,” the observer said. “But Dayton has yet to show us why he wants to run for governor other than that he is bored and rich.”