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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Horner gets credibility in governor race

ST. PAUL -- Tom Horner is a long way behind the two leaders in Minnesota's governor race, but the way his opponents talk about him makes it obvious they are concerned.

The Independence Party hopeful is the target of a new Minnesota Republican Web site at It paints Horner in the same corner as Democrat Mark Dayton, someone who will raise Minnesota's taxes. As the site name says, the GOP considers Horner a liberal.

GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said: "Tom Horner likes to pretend he's a moderate but Minnesotans deserve to know that, like Mark Dayton, Horner is a 30-year political insider who supports massive tax hikes and bigger government. In addition, Horner voted for Barack Obama for president."

Ironically, Horner was a long-time Republican activist and commentator.

In debates, Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer have taken after Horner as if he were a threat. The latest polls seem so suggest that he could take votes away from either candidate, although he still is well back in third place.

Horner is trying to remain viable, and said when the political arm of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce endorsed Emmer that he still has considerable business support.

Horner campaigned at a suburban chamber office soon after the state organization announced it backs Emmer.

Getting friendly

Minnesota's three major governor candidates are getting to know each other well.

They should, since they passed the dozen mark in the number of debates several days back.

When the trio arrived at a Thursday night debate, they were chatty and laughed a lot. At least they did before the debate began.

Democrat Mark Dayton was last to arrive, and told Republican Tom Emmer and Tom Horner of the Independence Party that the bus was late.

"You didn't take public transit or you would have been here before now," shot back Emmer, who likes to remind the more liberal Dayton that he often rides the bus.

As a Twin Cities Public Television worker hurriedly dabbed makeup on Dayton before the debate began, the former U.S. senator said: "I'm the only one who they have to power the back of my head."

He then turned to a photographer and warned him avoid taking pictures of the, er, spot that lacked hair.

Ad attacks two

The National Organization for Marriage is airing television commercials critical of Democrat Mark Dayton and Tom Horner of the Independence Party for supporting gay marriage.

It promotes governor candidate Republican Tom Emmer, saying he supports allowing Minnesotans to vote on the issue.

"Shouldn't something this important be decided by Minnesota voters, not politicians?" the commercial asks.

Klobuchar not distracted

The recent Washington, D.C. topic de jour was distracted driving, and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was involved.

"Too many drivers are texting behind the wheel," Klobuchar told a summit on the subject. "The consequences of distracted driving are devastating and demand greater action by us all - no text message is worth dying for. As a former prosecutor, I know how important it is to keep our roads safe, and I will continue to work to enact laws that address distracted driving."

The Minnesota Democrat is a co-sponsor of a bill that would, as she calls it, "encourage" states to ban texting while driving. Some state leaders use stronger words to describe the bill, saying it forces them to enact such legislation because it would withhold some federal funds if they do not take the action.

Seifert lands job

State Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, becomes executive director of his local hospital's foundation on Oct. 11.

Seifert's new job will be full time, but he also will work part-time in his newly minted real estate job.

The Avera Marshall Foundation raises money for Marshall-area health care needs.

Seifert is not seeking re-election to his House seat after losing the Republican governor's nomination to fellow lawmaker Tom Emmer. He is a former Republican House leader.

Seifert announced his new job in a Tweet.

Absentee site up

Add checking on absentee ballot status to things Minnesotans can do on line.

The secretary of state's office launched the program at, where voters can find a variety of other election-related information including whether they are registered.

The absentee voting check tells:

- Whether absentee ballot application has been received.

- If a ballot has been sent.

- When a ballot has been received.

- Whether the ballot has been rejected.

Absentee ballot problems were the main reason the 2008 U.S. Senate race was not resolved for more than a half year.

More than 150,000 Minnesotans are expected to vote absentee.

Bureau, Union split

The Minnesota Farm Bureau political action committee endorsed Republican Tom Emmer for governor and a similar state Farmers Union organization picked Democrat Mark Dayton.

The ag organizations' picks were no surprise. The Farm Bureau generally leans toward Republicans while the Farmers Union tends to favor Democratic-Farmer-Laborite candidates.

The Farm Bureau backed Republican Tim Pawlenty four years ago, the first year the committee made endorsements. The Farmers' Union supported Mike Hatch, a Democrat.

In its list of endorsements this year, the Farm Bureau picked mostly Republican legislative and congressional candidates. However, the statewide farm group did pick U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat. It did not endorse in southern Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, in a race between Democratic incumbent Tim Walz and GOP challenger Randy Demmer.

Shortly after the Farm Bureau pick was made public, the Dayton campaign announced it won Farmers' Union backing.

In its endorsement letter, Farmers' Union President Doug Pederson said: "Sen. Dayton is a known and trusted ally to rural Minnesota and farmers, and he can be counted on to be a strong advocate for agriculture."

Durenberger picks Walz

Former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger has endorsed another candidate who is not Republican.

The ex-GOP senator announced he backs U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat seeking re-election in southern Minnesota.

"Tim Walz knows how to put partisan politics aside and get the job done," Durenberger said. "He listens and he brings people together to solve the challenges we face."

Earlier in the year, Durenberger announced he supports Tom Horner of the Independence Party for governor

Big names coming

Minnesota's top two governor candidates continue to line up big names to help them campaign, and mostly raise money.

Vice President Joe Biden is due in St. Paul Oct. 5 to raise money for Democrat Mark Dayton. For most people, it will cost $2,000 to attend. No specific location has been set, but Biden is to be in Minnesota 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

President Barack Obama also may visit the state to help Dayton before the Nov. 2 election.

In the meantime, the Tom Emmer for governor campaign e-mailed an invitation for lunch with Newt Gingrich on Oct. 6.

The Emmer communication indicates that besides the Republican governor candidate, big names doing the inviting are Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Erik Paulsen. Pawlenty and Gingrich both are potential 2012 presidential candidates.

The Minneapolis fund-raiser costs $1,000 per person to see the former U.S. House speaker.