IP's Hutchinson picks No. 2 - then introduces 3, 4 and 5by Brian Bakst, Associated Press
St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Hutchinson reached into the doctor's office to find a campaign trail companion, naming physician and ex-health company executive Dr. Maureen Reed as his running mate Thursday.
But Hutchinson didn't stop with Reed. He went on to introduce a slate of statewide candidates for three other top jobs and said they'd run as a cohesive unit - sharing a campaign manager, office space and a decorated minivan as much as campaign finance law allows.
"We need a team, not a ticket," Hutchinson said.
John James, a private-practice attorney who served as commissioner of the Revenue Department under DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich, is running for attorney general. Lucy Gerold, a deputy police chief in Minneapolis, is running for state auditor. And Joel Spoonheim, a city official in Brooklyn Park, is running for secretary of state.
Still, voters can pick and choose their way down the ballot. Only Hutchinson and Reed will be officially packaged before voters.
In selecting Reed, Hutchinson maintains an outside-government feel to his campaign against veteran officeholders - Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Attorney General Mike Hatch, who was endorsed last week by state Democrats.
Neither Hutchinson, a public policy consultant, nor Reed has appeared on a fall ballot before.
Reed, of Stillwater, is hardly a familiar face in Minnesota politics, but she is recognized in health and higher education circles.
Reed is the former medical director for Health Partners, a large Minnesota-based HMO.
She served eight years on the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents, including a two-year stint the governing board's leader. Regents are elected by the Minnesota Legislature.
Hutchinson said he was looking for someone from the medical community who could hit the ground running in changing the state's health care delivery system. He also looked for a person that voters "actually believe would be a great governor."
Reed said the five-candidate slate is filled with people who "know how to bring people together, know what the issues are and know how to get the issues addressed."
Hatch hasn't announced his running mate. A Hatch DFL primary opponent, state Sen. Becky Lourey, chose ex-Minnesota Viking and Minneapolis business owner Tim Baylor. Pawlenty has kept intact his 2002 ticket with Carol Molnau in the lieutenant governor spot.
The Independence Party is meeting June 24 to endorse candidates, with Hutchinson the favorite to get the nod for governor over Pam Ellison.
The party has played a prominent role in the last two gubernatorial elections. In 2002, Tim Penny grabbed 16 percent of the vote. In 1998 - when the IP was known as the Reform Party in Minnesota - Jesse Ventura carried its banner in his upset win.
Hutchinson served as finance commissioner under Perpich, but he insists he was a politically independent voice in the cabinet.
On Thursday, Hutchinson, James and Spoonheim acknowledged past activity in the DFL Party. But they - and Reed and Gerold - said they have long considered themselves independents.
Reed's campaign for votes, however, might have to start within her own household. Her husband, Dr. James Hart, is a DFL donor and he actively promoted Lourey at a campaign event in February.
"It's good to have two horses in the race. It doubles my chances," Hart joked, adding that he'll pull back from working on behalf of Lourey. "If she did win the primary, I would have to spend some time meditating and decide where I am. I'm very supportive of my wife."