Speaking With Pat Anderson

A little more than an hour after speaking via telephone with DFL candidate for governor Tom Bakk, a Republican gubernatorial hopeful walked into my office. I can’t recall ever interviewing two candidates for governor in the same day … and there are still 12 months until the big election.

Something tells me the race to replace Tim Pawlenty is going to be an all-out war. That, of course, shouldn’t be terribly surprising – it seems as if all politics in this mostly hyperpartisan age is primarily about outbullying the other side. But, in the wake of the Al Franken-Norm Coleman overtime extravaganza – as well as Pawlenty’s evident intention to seek the White House – Minnesota is going to be even more high-profile than ever. And, since the Gopher State currently has a Republican governor in "T-Paw," many will be watching to see if the GOP can keep that seat as part of what it hopes will be a national surge of momentum.

Pat Anderson, who served as Minnesota’s state auditor during Pawlenty’s first term, is one of the Republicans who hopes to be the next governor. During her visit to the Daily Globe Thursday, Anderson outlined what her campaign is hailing as "365 Days, 365 Ways to a Better Minnesota," something which she insists "is more than clever rhetoric." The press kit she gave me included the first seven ideas of the 365, with the first dated Nov. 2 (the day she began a four-day, 14-stop tour) and the final dated Nov. 8 (seven days later). 

The first of the seven – "Commit to a better Minnesota" – includes text that trumpets the importance of fiscal conservatism with a libertarian streak. "Whether the issue is education, transportation, health care – you name it – Minnesotans see government spending more and more while outcomes get worse and worse. And the worse things get, the more money policymakers tell us state government needs. … Commitment to a better Minnesota is focusing state government on its constitutional obligations … (and) holding state government accountable … and leaving more resources in the private sector where jobs and prosperity arise and the wealth required for compassion is created. Commitment to a better Minnesota is commitment to freer Minnesotans."

Anderson returns to the theme of individual liberty in her seventh idea: "Respect Individual Liberty and Limited Government." She writes: " … For any piece of legislation, the burden of proof falls on the Legislature to justify how the proposed law increases individual liberty or ensures that the legislation will not impinge on existing liberties." It should go without saying that Anderson is no fan of the Freedom to Breathe legislation, to take one example.

In proposing to "Reform the Relationship between the State and Local Governments" (idea six), Anderson writes: "The state should not be using the base level of LGA as a budget-balancing tool and should not be mandating what services local government should provide. We have a better Minnesota when local units of government are accountable to local taxpayers." Worthington, of course, has seen sizeable hits to its state LGA (local government aid) over the years, and has made plentiful numbers of cuts in programs. It’s hard to see how reform wouldn’t be a scary proposition for Worthington and many communities across the state, but at the very least Anderson deserves credit for starting a conversation on the long-debated matter.

Starting conversations and being part of what she calls a "campaign of substance" are the goals of Anderson’s candidacy – along with winning, of course. We’ve got 12 months to see where those conversations lead.