The first Republican hoping to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton says the governor's tax plans are sending the state in the wrong direction.
Scott Honour, an Orono businessman, said he's running for governor to bring his business experience to the State Capitol.
Honour has no political experience, but he does have a solid business background. Honour is a former investment banker who made most of his money in California. He said he and his wife grew up in Minnesota and decided three years ago to move back to the state. Now, he says he's running for governor because he thinks his business acumen will help the state.
"When I look at the direction that we're going I think having someone who understands the economy and understands how it works — someone with private sector experience — really is the right way to take the state," Honour said.
Honour is best known in Minnesota political circles for holding political fundraisers for Mitt Romney's campaign in 2012 at his $10 million Orono home. Now, Honour is focusing his attention on St. Paul. He said he's worried Dayton's agenda is wrong for Minnesota.
"His tax policy is taking us in the wrong direction. His focus on regulatory burdens is taking us in the wrong direction," Honour said. "We really need to make a change."
VIDEO: Honour announces candidacy
Honour said he's concerned the state budget is growing too quickly, He said he'd cut spending by targeting the compensation packages of public employees, cutting aid to cities and counties and making changes to how the state delivers subsidized health insurance. On social issues, Honour said he doesn't support a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in Minnesota.
"I support the traditional definition of marriage," Honour said. "At the same time, I think the bill that Rep. Kelly put forward to allow civil unions is one that is a great compromise and I'd support that."
Democrats and their allies have been quick to criticize Honour's candidacy. They characterize him as a wealthy businessman who is out of touch with ordinary Minnesotans. Honour argues that he's proud of his business background and said he grew up in a middle-class home.
Honour said he will seek the Republican Party endorsement but left open the possibility of running in a primary if he doesn't win the party's backing. He also said he's willing to spend his own money on the campaign.
MORE CANDIDATES EXPECTED TO EMERGE
Honour is the first major Republican to announce his bid for governor. But several more are expected to announce in the coming weeks. They could include state Sens. Dave Thompson and David Hann, state Rep. Kurt Zellers and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.
Johnson said he intends to make a final decision in the next month or so. He said he thinks Republicans will want a candidate who is conservative but has a track record of winning.
"That hasn't always been at the top of our list at least recently — the 'can they win' question. But I think it will be this year and next year," Johnson said. "I think Republicans are realizing that Dayton and the Democrats in St. Paul right now are causing some serious problems. If we don't pick the right candidate, we're going to have two and four more years of that."
For his part, Dayton said he won't start worrying about the campaign until next spring. He said he's focused on doing his job as governor. Dayton said he's not worried about which Republicans are running at this point.
"If there are 10 of them running, nine of them are not going to be my opponent," Dayton said. "I'm not going to spend time on that process. If they want to ask me for my recommendation, I'd be glad to give it but I don't think that's likely. They get to make their decision and the Independence Party will have their candidate and then we'll go from there."
Dayton has tapped his own bank account in past races. He wouldn't say whether he intends to spend his own money in 2014. He said that would be like the Vikings giving away their playbook.