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COL Tim Penny for governor

He has the ability to fix state's budget problem

Four candidates are seeking the office of governor of Minnesota.

They are Roger Moe, 58, of the DFL; Tim Pawlenty, 41, Republican; Tim Penny, 51, Independence Party, and Ken Pentel, 41, of the Green Party.

; Moe has a bachelor's degree in education from Mayville State College in North Dakota. He did graduate work in education administration at Minnesota State University Moorhead and at North Dakota State University. He was a teacher at Ada Senior High School for six years and also coached football, track and wrestling.

He was elected to the Senate in 1970 and was named majority leader in 1981. In 1998 he was the running mate of Hubert Humphrey III, who was defeated in the election for governor. He operates a business serving as a consultant on governmental affairs in states other than Minnesota.

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Pawlenty has a bachelor's degree and a doctor of law degree from the University of Minnesota. He has served as vice president of Wizmo Consulting Group, a computer technology company, but is now on leave of absence. He has served as an attorney for various local governments and was a partner in the Rider, Bennett, Arundel and Egan law firm. He was a member of the Eagan City Council from 1989 to 1992 and was elected to the House in 1992. He was named majority leader in 1999.

Penny has a bachelor of science degree from Winona State University. He was a state senator from 1977 to 1982 and represented the First District of Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1994. Since 1995 he has been a senior fellow and co-director of the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum at the University of Minnesota. He is he co-author of two books about his experience in Washington, "Common Cents" and "The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics." He has done some work for the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C., and has worked on public policy issues with Himle Horner, a public relations firm.

Pentel attended the University of Minnesota and Santa Monica Community College in California. He has worked for the Greenpeace environmental organization and worked on Ralph Nader's presidential campaign in Minnesota. He also has been an organizer for the Green Party.

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Of the four candidates, Penny is the best-suited to assume the leadership of the state. He has a record of thoughtful consideration of public issues as a congressman and in his two books about his work in Washington.

In addition, he has held himself to high standards as a candidate. He does not accept campaign contributions from special interests, but only from individual contributors. He refuses to use negative advertising, does not retain campaign consultants and does not do polling because he believes it is an incentive to candidates to adapt their principles to what seems popular at the moment.

; Penny objects to other candidates' use of negative advertising. He cited a recent ad by Pawlenty which said immigrants' driver's licenses should include the date their visa expires. Penny said the commercial unfairly sought to link immigrants with terrorist activities. Penny said the visa information could be included in computer records available to police, but it is unfair to stigmatize all immigrants by placing the data on their driver's licenses. He said he had participated in 28 debates with Pawlenty, but Pawlenty never mentioned the driver's license issue. If it had truly been important, it should have been mentioned in those debates, instead of saving it to scare voters in a last-minute ad.

Penny sees the state's budget shortfall not merely as a requirement to balance the budget but as an incentive to make fundamental changes in state government. He said it probably will be necessary to solve two-thirds of the problem with spending cuts and one-third with revenue increases. He said he would carefully review current funding formulas and not simply use current allocations as a basis for additional funding.

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; He said it may be possible to reduce spending by merging some state departments -- for example the Department of Administration, Department of Revenue and Department of Finance.

Penny faulted Moe and Pawlenty for failing to deal forcefully with the budget shortfall in the last session. He said they used accounting gimmicks, shifted fund payments and drained the state's financial reserves instead of taking the difficult step of ordering major expense cuts or revenue increases. In addition, Pawlenty made the unrealistic promise that he would not increase any taxes.

In effect, Penny said, Moe and Pawlenty had an opportunity to deal with the budget crisis last session, but failed to do so -- a fact that offers little hope that either would deal with the problem effectively as governor.

The fourth candidate, Pentel, does not have the experience to serve as governor at this time, but we think he was successful in calling attention to important environmental issues facing the state. He said that it is immoral to continue to produce radioactive waste at nuclear power plants when that waste will be poisonous for 10,000 years. He also said Minnesota and the rest of the country are guilty of squandering fresh water, one of our most precious resources, and called for action on renewable energy, clean air, sustainable agriculture and other issues that receive too little attention.

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We believe Penny has the ability and the tenacity to work with both major parties in the Legislature to revise the structure of government and to bring revenues and expenses into balance.

Based on his record in office, his high standards of political behavior and on his analysis of the current state of Minnesota's finances, we recommend his election as governor.

The issue:

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Four candidates are seeking the office of governor of Minnesota.

; Our comment:

Based on his record, his ethical standards and his analysis of the state's problems, we recommend the election of Tim Penny as governor of Minnesota.

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