The Independence Party's endorsed candidate for governor Tom Horner today named Jim Mulder as his running mate.
Mulder is a long-time executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties. He said his goal is to restore the relationship between the state and local communities.
Horner decided to go with a running mate who has an intimate knowledge of county government. Horner also argued that his selection shows that he is best equipped to bring an outsider focus to state government.
Neither Horner, a public relations executive and one-time Republican staffer, nor Mulder have ever run for political office before.
"We bring the perspective of people who understand government, who understand the difficult solutions that are going to be required in the next four years," he said. "But we also bring the perspective of people who aren't tied up in politics, who aren't so tied to the special interests that drive the Republican Party and the Democratic Party."
Horner said Mulder helps in two ways. First, he's worked with officials in Minnesota's 87 counties on a direct basis, and that will help the ticket politically. Second, Mulder has been at the forefront of suggesting ways to improve the relationship between the state and counties.
For example, Mulder suggested reducing paperwork for social service programs, reducing the number of agencies that oversee water quality and shifting adoption services from the county level to a regional or state level.
Mulder said making those types of changes will be necessary to get Minnesota out of a projected $5.8 billion budget deficit.
"Too much of the debate this election cycle will be trying to do the math. It's more than math, if we only focus on the math of taxes or not taxes, we'll fail as a state," Mulder said.
Horner is facing an August primary challenge. Rob Hahn, the owner of a small Twin Cities publishing company, announced on Sunday that former legislator Thomas Harens is his running mate. Hahn said Harens will both serve on his ticket and be his campaign manager.
"He has a knowledge of how the political system works a little better than I," Hahn said. "I've long maintained that for me to be successful and win on August 10th in the primary and again in November that I have to continue surround myself with people who know more about specific areas than I do."
There are three other Independence Party candidates running in the August Primary: John Uldrich, Rahn Workcuff and Phil Ratte.