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People as diverse as former North Dakota Gov. Allen Olson and ex-Minnesota House Speaker Dave Jennings got together recently to endorse Tom Horner, right, in his Independence Party bid for Minnesota governor. Olson is just to the left of Horner in this picture. Forum Communications Co. photo by Don Davis

Horner rolls out endorsements

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ST. PAUL -- Tom Horner's campaign has rolled out big-name supporters for the Independence Party governor candidate.

The campaign brought out a baker's dozen former Republican lawmakers to announce they support Horner, saying Republican candidate Tom Emmer is too far right politically. Also, a variety of supporters, ranging from rural to urban, went in front of microphones.

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Best known of the ex-GOP lawmakers is George Pillsbury, state senator in the 1970s and early 1980s and a member of the Pillsbury food products family.

"He still makes more sense than any of the alternatives," Pillsbury said about Horner, a long-time friend.

Pillsbury, approaching 90 years old, said he also is a friend of Democratic candidate Mark Dayton, who was an all-state hockey goalie. "But we need something more than that for a governor."

Former state Rep. Dennis Ozment of Rosemount said he is in "the Horner corner" because the Independence candidate can bring the two political extremes together. "Tom Horner is an experienced uniter."

Deputy GOP Chairman Michael Brodkorb said that the ex-lawmakers are from a "bygone era,"

Included in Horner's supporters is a former North Dakota governor: Allen Olson, governor 1981-1984 after being attorney general eight years.

Olson moved to the Twin Cities area two years after he lost re-election to Democrat George Sinner. Olson, a Republican, joins former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson in Horner's camp.

Not to be outdone, the National Federation of Independent Businesses endorsed Emmer and community leaders from around Minnesota came out for Dayton.

Sviggum considers

It doesn't take a very long talk with Steve Sviggum to realize that he harbors regret about not running for governor.

The former Republican Minnesota House speaker from Kenyon was eating a quick lunch when a reporter walked into the Chinese fast-food restaurant and the two started talking politics. Sviggum admitted to having "a hole in my stomach" about not opting to run a year and a half ago. (If he did run, he would have been forced to quit his state labor and industry commissioner job because of a federal law, and he needed the work "to pay the Visa bill.")

Sviggum did not rule out future political runs, including for the U.S. House if new district lines put Kenyon in a Democratic-controlled district.

After the long-time legislator finished his lunch, he handed the reporter the fortune from his cookie and said, "I should have stopped here (to eat) 18 months ago."

The fortune said: "Take the initiative and others will support you."

Horner faces goal

Most governor candidates avoid being specific, knowing that could hurt their campaigns.

But Tom Horner of the Independence Party broke with that tradition in revealing where his campaign needs to be in the polls to be competitive: "To cross that threshold to get into the 20 percent range by mid-October."

The most recent poll showed him stuck at 15 percent, just days away from mid-October.

Most politicians avoid revealing internal campaign goals out of fear if they don't reach a goal financial and voter support will disappear.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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