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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published August 08 2010

Minnesota DFL governor race not the only race for governor

ST. PAUL – The Democratic governor’s race gets most of the attention in this primary season when a light voter turnout is expected Tuesday, but several statewide races are on the ballot.

In most cases, challengers either are perennial candidates who never do well or are candidates who have not waged visible campaigns.

The Independence Party governor’s race is an exception. There, Rob Hahn has caught some attention in challenging party-endorsed Tom Horner, a former Republican activist.

The only other Independence candidate who has made any noise is John T. Uldrich, who recently issued a news release saying he is not waiting for the election to promote businesses moving to Minnesota.

Some of Hahn’s publicity recently was about a 2009 incident in which he threatened his wife. Otherwise, Hahn has proposed riverboat gambling to fund a Vikings football stadium and claims he can more than fill an expected $6 billion state deficit.

Horner, a longtime public relations executive, is open to some new taxes, unlike most people in the Republican Party he left.

He places himself between the conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, hoping to reach moderate Minnesotans. However, the Independence Party has taken that approach for years without success.

A major Independence problem has been the inability to raise enough money to compete. Horner faces the same situation, badly trailing major DFL and Republican candidates in fundraising, as well as in the polls.

Some long-shot candidates’ names may be familiar to voters:

E Bob Carney Jr., running for governor, filed a suit against fellow Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, challenging his authority to cut spending. Carney recently said he would drop out of the race if he won Tuesday’s primary, leaving the decision about who runs in November up to GOP officials.

Republican State Chairman Tony Sutton calls most of the long-shot candidates “political gadflies.”

But he cannot shake the memory of the year when a woman he called the “definition of a political gadfly” upset the party’s endorsed candidate for attorney general because she had what politicians call a “good ballot name.”

Sharon Anderson lost in that general election, but she kept coming back and is on the ballot again this year, against GOP-endorsed attorney general hopeful Chris Barden.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.