The DFL-endorsed candidate for governor Margaret Anderson Kelliher today named a former state finance official as her running mate.
Kelliher said John Gunyou, who worked in the administration of Republican Gov. Arne Carlson, is best suited to help her get the state out of its looming fiscal mess.
Kelliher picked a running mate who isn't a DFL Party mainstay. But she said John Gunyou's financial experience, both as finance commissioner under Carlson, and in his current job as Minnetonka city manager, will help her build a team to dig the state out of a $5.8 billion deficit projected for the next two-year budget cycle.
"Driven by the courage of his convictions and armed with an unmatched knowledge of our state of state finances and local finances, John Gunyou is the right choice to be Minnesota's next lieutenant governor," Kelliher said.
Gunyou has also worked as the finance director of the city of Minneapolis, a consultant, a math teacher, and as a finance officer for the parent company of Minnesota Public Radio.
During a 25-minute press conference, Kelliher and Gunyou spent more time attacking Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty than the Republican Party's endorsed candidate, Tom Emmer. Pawlenty is not seeking a third term.
Gunyou has long criticized Pawlenty's handling of the budget, and he kept it up Friday.
"For eight years, the political calculations of the governor's office have trumped sound public policy," said Gunyou. "For eight years, the national ambitions of our governor have undercut Minnesota middle-class families. And for eight long years, the Pawlenty administration has ducked the hard decisions and has taken the easy way out."
Although he served under a Republican governor, Gunyou said he's voted more for Democrats than Republicans.
The Kelliher-Gunyou ticket doesn't provide geographic balance that candidates typically look for. Both currently live in Hennepin County, but Kelliher stressed that she was raised on a farm in rural Minnesota.
Kelliher also said Gunyou will help attract middle-of-the-road Minnesotans to vote in the DFL primary.
Kelliher faces a DFL primary challenge from former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton and former legislator Matt Entenza.
Dayton praised Kelliher's pick of Gunyou and said he'd consult Gunyou on fiscal matters if he wins in November. Dayton says he'll announce his running mate on Monday. He wouldn't disclose the name, but outlined his priorities for the pick.
"Someone who is well qualified to be governor if that eventuality should arise. Someone who would be a good partner in the co-leadership of state government," said Dayton. "Someone who brings life experience, and in my case, I was looking for somebody who comes from a different part of the state geographically than myself."
Entenza said he'll also announce his running mate next week. He said he's still considering several people for the job.
"The primary is going to be won or lost by which team is going to excite people as to where the state is going to go," said Entenza. "And that's one of the reasons that I challenged Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Mark Dayton to a series of debates, so people can hear about our vision."
Entenza said Dayton has accepted to his debate request but Kelliher hasn't.
Republicans were quick to criticize Kelliher's selection of Gunyou, saying he is in lockstep with Kelliher on supporting tax increases.