E-85 takes over governor campaign
ST. PAUL -- Ethanol erupted into a major issue today in the Minnesota governor's race. Democratic governor candidate Mike Hatch said Republicans are unfairly trying to play up an incident in which his running mate, Judi Dutcher, appeared to know ...
ST. PAUL -- Ethanol erupted into a major issue today in the Minnesota governor's race.
Democratic governor candidate Mike Hatch said Republicans are unfairly trying to play up an incident in which his running mate, Judi Dutcher, appeared to know nothing about E-85 ethanol.
While campaigning recently in Alexandria, a television reporter asked Dutcher about the campaign's stance on ethanol.
"What is E-85?" Dutcher responded.
Ethanol production is a burgeoning industry in rural Minnesota. E-85 is a fuel blend of 85 percent corn-based ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Minnesota has by far the most E-85 pumps in the country and Hatch, Pawlenty and most other political leaders make it a cornerstone of their rural campaigns.
Hatch, the current attorney general, said he is a longtime proponent of the ethanol industry and that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is using the issue to avoid debating Hatch over ethanol.
"The governor is so desperate, he's so far behind," Hatch said. "He's picking on a woman."
In a conference telephone call with reporters, Pawlenty said the issue has nothing to do with Dutcher's gender.
"If you want to be governor or lieutenant governor of an agriculture state ... that leads the nation in renewable energy, you have to be on top of these issues," Pawlenty said.
Pawlenty and Hatch are locked in a near tie days before Tuesday's election.
Dutcher, a former two-term state auditor, worked in the private sector for the past four years. Hatch said the interview was done late in the day and that his running mate was caught off guard.
"She does know the issue," Hatch said.