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Rep. Dave Thompson selects his colleague as running mate

Published 11:57am Friday, January 31, 2014

ST. PAUL — Republican Dave Thompson selected state Senate colleague Michelle Benson as his running mate Thursday, starting a parade of political pairings in Minnesota’s race for governor.

Thompson said he went with Benson for his lieutenant governor pick because he believes she is a skilled legislator of impeccable character who has a philosophy similar to him. They said their voting records in the three years both have served would largely overlap.

“I’m sure there are areas where we may disagree around the edges,” Thompson said, but added that Benson “more or less sees the world as I do.”

If elected, Thompson said Benson would be instrumental in developing health care policy for his administration. She has been a leading critic of Minnesota’s implementation of the nation’s new health care law.

“I told Dave, months before I announced, that I would do anything to help him win,” Benson said at a news conference. “I didn’t realize how seriously he was going to take that promise.”

Thompson is one of seven Republicans in the field but the first to pick his running mate. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is also choosing a new No. 2 because Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon has ruled out a second term.

Thompson’s campaign hinges on securing the GOP’s convention endorsement, a process that starts with Tuesday’s caucuses. The early pick of Benson gives him another campaigner. Thompson is a state senator from Lakeville.

Benson was first elected in 2010 and lives in Ham Lake with her husband and three children.