Former Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner stumped for Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson this morning in Rochester.
At a news conference at Rochester City Hall, Horner talked about his decision to endorse Johnson over DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
"Certainly, Jeff and I don't agree on everything. But we're in a political climate where we hear from a lot of Minnesotans, 'Why can't they just work together? Why can't they just get along?' And I think it's going to take a person like Jeff Johnson to reach across the aisle," Horner said.
The Twin Cities public relations executive was joined by Johnson's running mate, Bill Kuisle; Rochester state Sens. Carla Nelson and Dave Senjem and Republican House District 26A candidate Breanna Bly.
Horner announced his endorsement of Johnson last week. His visit to Rochester was the first stop on a multi-city campaign tour on behalf of the Plymouth Republican. Horner planned to stop in Mankato later today. Tomorrow he will be in Duluth and on Wednesday he plans to stop in Bemidji and St. Cloud.
Prior to joining the Independence Party, Horner was a member of the Republican Party. When he ran in 2010 against Dayton and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, Horner received 12 percent of the vote statewide. In Olmsted County, he netted 15 percent of the vote.
Horner said he first met with Johnson two years ago for lunch to talk about running for governor. Over time, he said he became convinced Johnson was the best candidate for the job. He said Johnson is best equipped to deal with the challenges facing Minnesota, including the growing number of low-skill, low-wage jobs and the need to address the educational achievement gap.
"It's those kind of issues that we ought to deal with. There's just no evidence that the current administration has any clear, cohesive, comprehensive path to creating those solutions," Horner said.
Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin said Horner's decision to endorse Johnson isn't unexpected given his roots in the GOP party.
"It's not altogether surprising that a Republican would endorse another Republican," Martin said.
He added that "if Jeff Johnson is banking on Tom Horner delivering a certain amount of votes for him and putting him over the top, he should look at the 2010 election results."