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Associated Press, Published May 21 2010

Kelliher picks Gunyou as running mate in Minnesota governor race

ST. PAUL (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher picked former state Finance Commissioner John Gunyou as her running mate on Friday, saying he brought "unmatched knowledge of the state budget" to her ticket.

The two appeared together at a Capitol news conference, where Gunyou was ambiguous about his personal politics. He called himself a "Margaret Anderson Kelliher Democrat," acknowledged his work for a Republican administration and said he had "voted Democratic far more times than I have voted Republican."

Gunyou, 61, served as the state's budget chief under Republican Gov. Arne Carlson and now works as city manager for Minnetonka, an affluent Minneapolis suburb. He is also a former finance director for the city of Minneapolis, a Democratic stronghold.

The selection defies the usual considerations of geographic diversity: Kelliher and Gunyou live less than 10 miles apart. Kelliher said her own farm-family roots should give comfort to voters outside the metropolitan area and that she was looking for someone with proven management skills over an established political pedigree.

It could be a sign that Kelliher, the House speaker and a Minneapolis resident, is making a firm play for center-left voters in an August primary.

Among her primary challengers, former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton has appealed strongly to the party's left flank, particularly with his vocal call for higher income taxes. Former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza of St. Paul is also in the mix.

Neither Dayton nor Entenza have chosen a running mate. Both have until the June 1 candidate filing period to do so.

Kelliher won the DFL Party endorsement in April.

Republican-endorsed candidate Tom Emmer, a state legislator, has selected think tank leader Annette Meeks as his No. 2. Public relations executive Tom Horner, the Independence Party's endorsed candidate, hasn't named his would-be lieutenant governor.

Horner said the pick is evidence that both parties are worried about his candidacy, noting attacks from right-leaning interest groups over the past week. Horner, though, called Gunyou a strong pick.

"This is a selection that is all about the general election and so she has to roll the dice and hope that it pays off for the general election," he said. "Right now it's a long-shot bet."

Republican Deputy Chairman Michael Brodkorb attacked Kelliher for picking someone who is in "lockstep with her." The GOP highlighted his public statements in support of tax increases, from gasoline to sales taxes.

Although Gunyou served under a Republican governor, he hasn't embraced the GOP's current stance against new taxes. He called Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty approach to the budget over the past eight years shortsighted.

"The recession might have triggered our latest budget problems, but the irresponsible financial management of Tim Pawlenty has substantially deepened them," Gunyou said, describing Emmer as a "radical partisan" who will continue down the same path.

Kelliher said she would rely on Gunyou to help design a budget fix and longer-term changes, but she had no plans to put him in charge of a state budget agency.

"Driven by the courage of his convictions, and armed with an unmatched knowledge of the state budget, John Gunyou is the right choice for this ticket and the right choice for our state," she said.

Gunyou said a multibillion dollar deficit awaiting the next administration has to be solved with a blend of cuts and tax increases. "Slogans like 'runaway government' and 'tax the rich' are not solutions," he said.

After his stint as finance commissioner, Gunyou headed the state's Office of Technology for about 18 months. He has also been an executive for MRNet, an Internet service provider, and was a chief financial officer for the parent company of Minnesota Public Radio.

Gunyou is a former math teacher who lives in Minnetonka with his wife, Kim. They have five adult children.

If Kelliher wins, the new administration would have two gender breakthroughs. Minnesota has never had a woman as governor and hasn't had a man as lieutenant governor in almost three decades.

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Associated Press writer Martiga Lohn contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.