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Emmer downplays latest poll showing Dayton lead

Tom Emmer, the Republican-endorsed candidate for governor, addresses local supporters Wednesday at the former Wendy's restaurant in Willmar. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Republican candidate for governor Tom Emmer said he is not troubled by the latest poll that puts him 11 points behind his DFL opponent, Mark Dayton. "It doesn't matter," said Emmer following a campaign rally Wednesday morning at the Kandiyohi County Republican headquarters in Willmar.

Emmer said his message of fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and creating a positive business environment "resonates" with people and that the real poll results will be known on Nov. 2 when Minnesotans vote for their next governor.

Questioning the validity of the Minnesota Public Radio-Humphrey Institute poll that gives Dayton the big lead, and citing other polls that put him ahead of Dayton, Emmer said he has something no other candidate for governor has: momentum.

He said liberals are trying to stop that momentum by "running nasty ads."

But he said that "won't work this time."

Emmer said most Minnesotans don't like the direction the state is going and will vote for his platform of jobs, opportunities and a new future that has individuals -- not government -- deciding what's best.

When asked if some Republicans thought he was too conservative and would instead vote for Independence Party candidate Tom Horner, Emmer rebutted that it's never "too conservative" to know right from wrong, to bear consequences for actions and to be "responsible for yourself."

Emmer said he believes in "everyday people values" and that he's an outsider advocating for redesigning government when other candidates are making "false promises" that they'll be unable to keep.

Emmer said he's telling people what they "need" to hear and not necessarily what they "want" to hear when it comes to cutting the state budget. Making campaign promises to deliver government assistance to people is a "typical career politician's tactic," he said.

With his wife, Jacquie, at his side, Emmer told the crowd of about 60 party faithful on Wednesday that his family knows how to stretch a budget to make sure there's enough milk in the refrigerator for their seven children. It's that kind of real-world experience that he believes will ring true with voters. He said he's the only candidate for governor that has the highest polling figures from 18- to 35-year-olds.

While in Willmar, Emmer not only encouraged local Republicans to support his campaign, but also the campaigns of other Willmar residents who are running for state and federal offices.

"Show up," Emmer told the crowd of supporters.

Emmer said candidates like Sen. Joe Gimse and Bruce Vogel, who are running for the state Legislature, and Lee Byberg who's running for Congress, need the "time, talent and treasures" of party members to turn their campaigns into wins in November.

Like the pep-talks he's given in locker rooms to athletes, Emmer encouraged the candidates to keep the pressure on.

"You just keep working your tail off," Emmer told Vogel, who's running against Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar. "He's feeling your breath."

Vogel said the race will not be the "cake walk" Juhnke had envisioned.

Emmer said Byberg, who's running against longtime U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, has come "out of nowhere" to gain the attention of the National Republican Congressional Committee that has promised campaign money from their "Young Guns" program. "You're on your way to victory in November," Emmer told Byberg.

In a brief speech that garnered just as much applause and whistles as Emmer, Byberg called this a "defining election" that is about private sector jobs, reducing spending, lowering taxes and "finding our way back to the American experience."

With a staggering federal deficit that will saddle future generations with heavy costs, Byberg said the current system is not sustainable and needs to be countered with limited government and a system that keeps taxes, and decisions on how to spend them, local.

Emmer said Gimse is a "real representative in St. Paul" who stands in stark contrast to his opponent who wants a bigger government.

Gimse said the good turnout at the rally was a good sign of the enthusiasm there is for the Republicans' principals this election and that the party needs to rally behind Emmer. "I know how important it is to put a conservative in that office," Gimse said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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