Mark Sommerhauser’s interview with Jeff Johnson focuses on two things. First, it focuses on Johnson’s message that he’ll unite the party, which I think is largely true. The other thing worth gleaning from the article is Scott Honour’s scorched earth campaign. First, here’s Johnson’s pitch:

“I’m the only one that can come out of this primary with an energized and united base,” Johnson said. “If someone else wins the primary somehow, they’re going to have to spend some time putting the party back together. “We don’t have time for that.”

Johnson and Kurt Zellers are the only candidates with a chance to unite the party. Marty Seifert can’t because he essentially turned his back on the grass roots activists in the party at this year’s state convention. That’s significantly more than 1,000 activists, many of whom supported him going into the convention.

Scott Honour can’t unite the party, either, because he’s burned bridges with his “Career politicians have had their chance message.”

Honour says Johnson hasn’t been bold enough in outlining his vision to slash state spending and bureaucracy. Honour says he’d go bigger if we were governor. For instance, he says he’d propose cutting state administrative staff across the board by 10 percent.

I’ve never cared for politicians proposing across the board cuts. That tells me they haven’t taken a close look to see where the inefficiencies are. For instance, I’d applaud if he wanted to eliminate every legislative liaison position in state government because a legislative liaison’s chief responsibility is to lobby the legislature for more money for their agency.

We don’t need dozens (hundreds?) of taxpayer-funded lobbyists.

Getting rid of 90% of the PR people in the various state agencies would be a good thing, too, but Honour isn’t proposing that. Again, Honour’s attention to detail is troubling. By comparison, Johnson’s got the right approach:

Johnson notes that, if he’s elected, state law requires he propose a budget about six weeks after taking office. Regardless of what happens in the November elections, he also would have to work with a DFL-controlled state Senate.

“To suggest that we can remake government in six weeks is just silly,” Johnson said. “In politics, you should just be honest with people and not make promises that you can’t keep.”

Jeff Johnson understands when to push and when he’s gotten everything he’s going to get. Further, he’s shown that he isn’t afraid to give Democrats a sharp elbow to the ribs:

GOLDEN VALLEY—Jeff Johnson, the Republican endorsed candidate for Governor, released the following statement on the sale of bonds and beginning of construction for the new Senate Legislative Office Building (SLOB):

“Minnesotans will be paying for this palace for the next 20 years, and Mark Dayton doesn’t even have the courage to show up for a groundbreaking.”

“This building is symbolic of everything that is wrong with government under Dayton: initially he opposed it, then he signed on as a political payoff to fellow politicians, and finally he runs for cover when taxpayers revolt. In the end, we are stuck with a boondoggle nobody but Dayton’s political cronies want, and a big fat bill. Our kids are stuck paying for this.”

This isn’t the type of red meat that some activists love but it’s the type of shot that’ll get people’s attention. It’s the type of attack Minnesota’s passive-aggressives would appreciate.

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