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Minnesota Opinion published Nov. 5, 2005

Here are some excerpts from recent editorials that appeared in Minnesota newspapers.

On political campaigns:

Minnesotans will elect a governor and senator next November. The ad barrage so far has been limited to billboard signs along the interstate and a few television spots.

But a significant aspect of the campaigns is already underway in earnest -- raising money to finance the candidacies.

And according to a recent Associated Press story, the race for governor looks to be a big bucks affair.

DFLer Kelly Doran, a real estate millionaire, has already pumped a half million dollars into his efforts -- mainly to makeup for his lack of name recognition with Minnesota voters. Incumbent Gov. Tim Pawlenty has successfully been mining contributors.

Many candidates won't commit at this point to abide by spending limits -- which allow them to use public funding. They may well be successful in raising so much money that the limitations and public financing would put them at a competitive disadvantage. The public subsidies can't be used until September.

The state's campaign spending limits were introduced in the 1970s in an effort to diminish the influence of special interest groups in politics. Obviously, such limits are no longer effective as the amount of money that goes into politics continues to escalate with each new campaign season.

Today these interest groups hold a commanding sway over the candidates and issues of campaigns.

State officials need to look at the spending limit laws and perhaps better tailor them to the realities of present day politics. Perhaps allowing candidates to access public funds before September would be one way to make the limits more workable.

It's true that special interest money will continue to find ways into politics. But we shouldn't stop trying to find ways to limit its influence.

After all, campaigns should be about ideas rather than special interests.

-- The Daily Journal (International


On Hatch candidacy:

The entry of Attorney General Mike Hatch into the Minnesota governor's race sets up a possible interesting contest next year between Hatch and Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Everyone has been expecting this race, and the political maneuvering between the two candidates' camps has been under way for many months prior to Hatch's announcement.

Just what does Hatch bring to the race? In his own words, Hatch says the Pawlenty administration's policies "are particularly cruel to the sick, the vulnerable and the impoverished." He wants to make access to health care his top priority if he wins.

While Hatch is clearly liberal, Pawlenty has been more conservative, although not strictly. His cigarette tax increase has not been well received by smokers of either party, nor by those who see the insidious hand of government in too many pockets. Pawlenty has supported stronger growth through his Job Opportunity Building Zones. These and a rebounding economy now have the state running budget surpluses again.

We believe Pawlenty has done well generally, but certainly deserves scrutiny in some areas, including his role in state budget standoffs.

But if anything worries us about Hatch it is whether he can be credible enough to confront the governor. While he will raise the issue of the budget crisis, Hatch is already framing his approach in terms of class warfare. Hatch seems to resent things the state has done to open up the economy, create jobs and generate more tax revenue. Hatch describes the Pawlenty administration as seeking to "subsidize private enterprise with tax cuts, subsidies and loopholes."

Well, we're sure state management of the economy wouldn't be necessary if people could just invest and run their businesses as they see fit. Hatch fails to account for burdensome regulations, taxes and psychological impediments created by anti-commerce politicians.

To be credible, Hatch needs to define just how much government he intends to devote to his causes, such as health care. This initiative is probably already ringing alarm bells at businesses large and small across the state. It is political and financial reality Hatch needs to address to offer Minnesotans a real choice for governor. Odes to the (failed) Great Society aren't going to cut it.

-- Sentinel (Fairmont)

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