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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Gov. candidates talk character traits in chapel


Macalester’s chapel was transformed into a makeshift TV studio Wednesday night as the three main candidates in the Minnesota gubernatorial election met for an open forum.The event, which was organized by Minnesota Public Radio and KARE-11 (NBC), was designed to resemble a job interview more than a debate. Each of the roughly 200 audience members was given a resume from each candidate, and moderators tried to limit any discussion of policies, instead asking questions about leadership skills.

Although there weren’t any big fireworks, all of the candidates provided some interesting snapshots of themselves, and one of them seemed to take the brunt of the questioning.

One audience member asked Independence Party candidate Tom Horner how he intended to work with the legislature.

“One of the needs is for the governor to be a political lightning rod,” Horner said.

Republican Tom Emmer responded, taking issue with Horner’s depiction of the governor as having to initially talk over the legislature.

“It’s about giving the team credit when the team deserves it,” Emmer said.

One person asked the candidates to identify their greatest weakness. Democrat Mark Dayton said it was his impatience, which he said could be useful in the right situations.

Later, co-moderator and MPR anchor Kerri Miller turned the microphone over to Horner’s wife, Libby, for a similar question, but an almost identical answer. She said it was his impatience, and constant desire to move forward.

One audience member asked Emmer what his wife might say his biggest character weakness was. His answer: “I think she might say that sometimes I care too much.”

All three candidates spoke about their hardest life lessons.

Dayton said the toughest lesson he has had to learn is that “sobriety is essential,” referring to his status as a recovering alcoholic.

Emmer said he has had to learn that no one can control everything in life. Horner seconded that, mentioning how he receveived a lot of unexpected lessons when his wife was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago.

Co-moderator and KARE-11 political reporter John Croman spoke to one of the main trends of the evening when he introduced a question with a bit of a warning: “A lot of people are curious about Tom Emmer tonight.”

Emmer attracted the largest number of direct questions of the evening. He caused a bit of a stir when an audience member asked who his favorite former governors are.

“I admire everybody who’s out there,” he said. “I’m not Tim Pawlenty…I’m going to be Tom Emmer.”

When the same audience member challenged him for more specifics, he stuck to his guns, prompting Miller to press him.

“I think we’re hearing murmurs [in the room] you did not answer that,” Miller said.

“I think I did,” Emmer said. “I’m going to be Tom Emmer.”

Overall the candidates stuck to the same messages they’ve had throughout election season.

Dayton emphasized his experience as a U.S. senator for six years.

Horner continued to paint himself as an alternative to the two main parties, tauting the positive editorials he has received in newspapers, including the Star Tribune.

And Emmer delivered a similar message, referring to himself as a political outsider at one point. “It’s not about being a Repbulican or a Democrat,” he said, adding that he was proud of his endorsement by the Republican party.

None of the candidates mentioned Macalester. This was the second gubernatorial forum on campus this year, although Emmer did not attend the earlier one.


Editor’s note: This is an online-only article. Look for expanded coverage of the forum and election results in the Nov. 5 issue of The Mac Weekly.

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