The University welcomed another potential governor Thursday as Attorney General Skip Humphrey spoke before 30 University students at a U-DFL meeting about his candidacy.
Humphrey asked students to come work for his campaign, donate time and money and promised them a big victory party.
“I love to party,” Humphrey joked.
Republican Gov. Arne Carlson has announced that he will not seek a third four-year term, leaving the 1998 governorship up for grabs. Several prominent Democrats in the state, such as Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, Humphrey, ex-state senator Ted Mondale, and chain-store owner Mark Dayton have decided to run for the open seat. Mondale will speak at the next U-DFL meeting Thursday.
Humphrey told the students that he is very similar to his Democratic opponents.
“There is a huge chasm between us,” Humphrey said as he held up his thumb and pointer finger. “It is about this wide.” Philosophically, there is not a great deal of difference because they are all liberal democrats, he said.
However, Humphrey said his experience and his ability to garner support would make him a better choice for the Democratic endorsement. He also mentioned his record of fighting for the environment and education.
“I have 14 years of experience working with business and labor,” he said. “I guarantee I can deliver the largest possible majorities in the state.”
Humphrey said he will work to keep student tuition, which has increased rapidly over the past several years, to 2.5 percent growth annually.
More cooperation would exist between the governor’s office and the Legislature if Minnesota elects him, he said.
“We will have a dynamic relationship between the governor and the Legislature,” Humphrey said.
Welfare reform is another issue that will be a major part of his platform, Humphrey said. He called the Republican welfare reform law that passed in 1996 cruel and harsh, and said he would work to keep benefits for people in Minnesota.
Humphrey criticized Carlson for his past vetoes of funding initiatives, and now for claiming that the current $2.3 billion state surplus is because of his hard work.
“He is riding on the peace dividend in the world and the well-managed economy in Washington,” he said.
Humphrey said Minnesota must allow its students to come to “a great university like this” to learn. He urged students to work together, stay in Minnesota and help the state economy grow.
“There is no reason (jobs) can’t stay right here,” Humphrey said.
Campaign finance reform is needed in the nation and in the state, Humphrey said. He promised to stick to the campaign finance laws in Minnesota and encouraged other gubernatorial candidates to do the same. He said recent problems in Washington, D.C., involving campaign finance show that the system needs to be changed.
“There is an addiction down there and it’s called money,” Humphrey said. “We are not going to have big money running the show in Minnesota.”
Republican candidates have also been working to get their campaigns rolling. During the past two months, gubernatorial candidates such as Sen. Dean Johnson, R-Willmar, and Sen. Roy Terwilliger, R-Edina, spoke at College Republican meetings. Allan Quist, who was the endorsed Republican candidate over Carlson in 1994, is scheduled to speak at a College Republican meeting in April.
Other potential candidates for governor include Lieutenant Governor Joanne Benson, Sen. Tom Neuville, R-Northfield, and St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman. Coleman has not yet announced if he will become a candidate, because he is focusing on the 1997 mayoral race.