Governor Candidate Forum Outlines Strong Themes

Six Republican candidates for MN Governor responded to several questions posed by the Minnesota business community at a forum hosted by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce on Friday, December 1.

Governor_Candidate_Forum_512x258.jpgThe candidates at the forum were seated in the following order: 

  • Matt Dean, Minnesota State Representative (Dellwood). 
  • Keith Downey, former Chair of the MN GOP and former Minnesota State Representative (Edina). 
  • Mary Giuliani Stephens, mayor of Woodbury, MN
  • Jeff Johnson, Hennepin County Commissioner and former Minnesota State Representative (Plymouth)
  • David Osmek, Minnesota State Senator (Mound)
  • Phil Parrish, intelligence officer, Naval Reserve, and former principal of a school for students with emotional behavioral disorders in Austin, MN

The following are excerpts from the first half of the candidates’ remarks and answers.


Question:  “Why You?

Dean:  We need a governor that understands we need both clean water and prosperity.

Downey:  People have the sense that government is coming at them, and not to help.   I believe the the people of Minnesota.

Stephens:  I have executive experience with balancing budgets.  I had a seat on the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce.  I know how to work with business.

Johnson:  I am running to take power away from government and return it to the people, to move from punishing people to serving them.

Osmek:  Compromise is not necessarily bad but we as a party have compromised too often too soon.

Parrish:  I am not a politician, but a teacher, a principal, a Navy intelligence officer.  I will cut the budget by getting rid of waste, fraud, and abuse.



Question:  How would you solve our “Labor Force Deficit”?

Osmek:  We need to convince kids today that technical education is viable. 

Johnson:  We need to help kids today recognize that technical training will work.

Stephens:  I would promote industry partnering with technical schools and push to close the state’s education achievement gap.

Downey:  In Minnesota, the public sector is crowding out the private sector.  We are also a new labor outflow state, with more workers leaving than moving in.

Dean:  Around the state, the two top employer issues are either health care and labor shortfalls, or labor shortfalls and health care.  We can’t have people deciding not to work because unemployed people get health benefits.


Question:  How would you address “Health Care”?

Downey:  Get the government out of health care.  Provide vouchers for the 1 million people on MNSURE to help them get private insurance.

Stephens:  I would work with our US representatives to reform health care.  The individual must be the primary decision maker in the health care arena.  I would push innovation.

Johnson:  We need more competition within the ranks of healthcare providers and health care insurers.

Osmek:  Government is the problem.  DFL wants health care for all.  Too many mandates.  I support health care savings accounts because they will attract young workers to Minnesota.

Parrish:  I would encourage insurance pooling and allow pools to stretch across state lines.

Dean:  If you think health care is expensive now, wait until its “free.”

Minnesota can figure out how to fix health insurance costs if given the freedom to do so.


Question:  Taxes” – What is the highest priority?

Stephens:  I would get Minnesota out of the top 10 highest taxed state category.  Grow jobs.  Give business the consistency and certainty that they need to operate efficiently.  Provide core services effectively and efficiently.

Johnson:  I would audit government services to check on their outcomes.  I would also lower taxes across the board.  Our lowest tax rates are higher than the highest tax rates in 23 other states.

Osmek:  I would reduce the rate of growth in spending.  I would reduce sales taxes.  I would reduce and streamline regulations.  I would reduce the cost of energy.

Parrish:  I would reduce the income tax on business and would make sure infrastructure is fair.  I would also promote the predictability of regulations, so that businesses will know what will be expected of them over time.

Dean:  I will address spending in Minnesota.  Other states around us have tackled regulations.  It is time we did.

Downey:  We need to address spending growth in Minnesota.  We need to reduce spending by 15% in first term.  Once spending cuts are in place, taxes can be reduced.


To be continued in the next newsletter.