State Sen. Thompson enters GOP race for governorby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The latest Republican to enter the race for governor promises to make state government get out of the way so Minnesotans can pursue their dreams.
State Sen. Dave Thompson of Lakeville, who officially launched his campaign Wednesday, said he wants to reduce taxes and regulations on individuals and businesses. He also wants voucher-style tax credits available to pay for private school tuition.
After just three years in the Minnesota Senate, Thompson said he's ready to lead a state that he believes is losing its way under Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and the DFL-controlled Legislature. The former radio talk show host first won elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2012.
When it comes to education, Thompson said the old approach of spending more money on public schools won't provide equal opportunities for all students. He said tax credits would help more families who are not satisfied with their local public school to afford a private school option.
"We need to make sure that they don't have to make a supreme financial sacrifice or have wealth to find a way to get their kids educated," he said in St. Paul. "What we need to do, folks, is we need to have the money following kids, not buildings. We need to support children. We need to support the subjects of education, not systems and structures and bureaucracy. As your governor, I can assure you we will do that."
Thompson said he wants to be a good steward of taxpayer money, and will go through the state budget line by line to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. He did not offer specifics. Thompson also said he wants to make Minnesota a place where businesses want to be.
"People are really concerned about the direction we're going. I'm very concerned," he said. "We've already heard that in light of all the taxes that hardworking taxpayers are being hit with that people are interested in leaving the state. Let's remember folks, the reason that we want businesses to open here and grow here, and we want entrepreneurs to be able to develop goods and services, because it benefits us all."
Thompson voted against the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota, but said he would have no interest in revisiting the issue or trying to undo the law as governor. "The people have spoken," he said.
But Thompson is willing to revisit the contentious right-to-work issue that put him at odds with organized labor and triggered loud protests in 2012. He said he'll continue his push to make union membership and union dues voluntary for all workers.
Labor officials were quick to criticize the new candidate for governor. Steve Hunter, secretary treasurer of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, said Thompson's support of the "right to work" issue is bad for workers and bad for business.
"Quite frankly we don't think that people in Minnesota want to have the same working conditions and things as they have in right to work state like Mississippi," Hunter said. "But if he wants to say that, I guess that's his right and the people will make their decision. But we're quite confident they'll reject him if that's what he wants to run on."
State Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge said he thinks Thompson could do a "pretty good job" as governor.
"He's just a good, all-around solid guy, and able to relate to typical Minnesotans," said Nienow, who was one of three Republican legislators on hand for the announcement. "I think that's the kind of person that we need that's smart and regular."
Thompson also scheduled events today in Duluth, Rochester and Lakeville.
With Thompson, there are now four Republicans who want a chance to challenge Dayton in 2014. The others are state Rep. Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and Orono businessman Scott Honour.
- All Things Considered, 06/26/2013, 5:24 p.m.