Pawlenty takes swipe at Horner

Published 9:21 am Monday, October 11, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Tim Pawlenty urged wavering Republicans on Sunday to get behind the party’s endorsed candidate rather than consider the Independence Party’s Tom Horner, a former Republican Party strategist.

Pawlenty said in a written statement that he has known Horner for 30 years and he’s a “decent” man, but the governor said Horner’s proposals would take the state in the wrong direction.

“Any Republican who votes for Tom Horner is not only helping (Democrat) Mark Dayton become governor, but casting a vote to undo the tax and spending cuts we’ve fought so hard for over the last eight years,” Pawlenty wrote.

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A key piece of Horner’s plan for handling an expected $5.8 billion budget deficit is making more goods subject to the state sales tax. His campaign has been trying to cast him as a moderate alternative between Emmer on the right and Dayton on the left.

On Wednesday, Horner announced his endorsement by 13 former Republican state lawmakers. He also has been endorsed by former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger and former Gov. Arne Carlson, both Republicans.

Recent polls show Dayton is leading with a sizable share of undecided voters still up for grabs.

Pawlenty’s endorsement of Emmer on Sunday comes after months of working on his behalf.

Matt Lewis, a spokesman for Horner’s campaign, said the most significant part of the endorsement was that it came only three weeks before Election Day.

“It speaks volumes about the reluctance of Gov. Pawlenty to jeopardize his national ambitions by tying himself to a gubernatorial candidate who increasingly is the choice only of Palin-Bachmann Republicans,” he said.