Deficit hawk faces budget hawk

By Lenora Chu

Elected in the traditionally Republican stronghold of southeast Minnesota, Tim Penny served as a Democrat in the Minnesota Senate for six years and in the U.S. House as Minnesota's 1st District Congressman for 12 years.

Although he won four re-election campaigns by at least 70 percent of the vote, Penny retired from Congress in 1994, citing his frustration with partisan politics on Capitol Hill. Since then he has worked as a public relations consultant and senior adviser for the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum.

In June, Penny switched to the Independence Party and declared his gubernatorial candidacy after Gov. Jesse Ventura announced intentions to retire and gave Penny his enthusiastic endorsement. Penny touts the IP's "sensible center" and vows not to accept special interest money or participate in focus groups and polls.


During his 12 years in Congress, Penny developed a reputation for his socially moderate views and fiscal prudence, the latter of which earned him the title of "deficit hawk." Now a resident of Waseca, Penny grew up near Albert Lea.

Bill Dahn says he is running for governor because he wants to advocate the principle of "restoring faith in government."

"I don't want the government to keep stealing from taxpayers, and (legislators) putting money in their pockets," he said. If elected, Dahn said he would immediately review all state disbursements of tax revenues, see which are expendable, and cut taxes accordingly.

Dahn also says he wants to cut the high school dropout rate in Minnesota and improve education because "all these kids in other countries are being educated to such an extreme for the purpose of being the best."

Dahn has run for a number of offices, including governor in 1998 and U.S. Senate in 2000. He was defeated in the Republican primary both times. He is mentioned in Leslie Davis's "Always Cheat: The Philosophy of Jesse Ventura," which alleges that Dahn was manipulated in the 1998 gubernatorial race by Gov. Jesse Ventura and his staff.

BOX:Tim Penny

Age: 50

Address: 500 State St. North, Waseca, MN 56093


Family: Wife, Barbara, four children: Jamison, 23; Joseph, 22; Molly, 20; Marcus, 16

Work and education: B.A. political science, Winona State University; senior consultant to PR firm Himle-Horner, senior fellow, Humphrey Institute Policy Forum, co-author of "Common Cents, "The 15 Biggest Lies in Politics" and "Payment Due"

Community and volunteer activities: President of St. John Lutheran Church, Sunday school teacher, member of Minnesota Waterfowl Association, board of directors of YMCA's Youth in Government

Previous government positions: 1st District U.S. Representative (1982-1994); state senator (1976-1982).

Top three issues:

1. State budget -- balance the budget "honestly," with no gimmicks or accounting shifts, restore budget reserves. Leave everything, including raising taxes, on the table for consideration

2. Transportation -- Clear backlog of road construction projects, attend to metro-area bottlenecks, increase gas tax to fund transportation projects. Improve operation of Twin Cities' bus system and accelerate development of bus routes

3. Education -- Allow more local control of education, work with school districts to meet different needs such as ESL or technology, make Profiles of Learning optional, lift burden of special education funding off local school districts and onto state and federal levels


BOX: Bill Dahn

Age: 52

Address: 256 W. Morton St., St. Paul, MN 55107

Family: Single

Work and education: Welding technical degree; autobody welder, carpenter

Community and Volunteer Activities: Volunteer, Christian Food Shelf since 1996

Previous government positions: None

Top three issues:


1. Restoring faith in government: Fight against misuse of taxpayer money, cut taxes where the revenues are "not required"

2. Health care: Build a more efficient health care system for the elderly, lower prescription drug costs

3. K-12 education: Restore funding to fully meet all education needs, ensure that funds are not misappropriated

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