Would-be governor speaks to students

Tracy Ellingson

State Senator Roy Terwilliger appealed to the University’s College Republicans Wednesday night to help him win the governorship in 1998 when current Republican Gov. Arne Carlson’s term expires.
“I come at (the governorship) from the standpoint of a person who’s had a broad background,” Terwilliger told about 25 students at the GOP meeting.
The third-term senator from Edina officially filed for candidacy in November, making him the first to announce his desire for the state’s top office. Lieutenant Gov. Joanne Benson is the only other Republican to have filed to run against Terwilliger.
“I pride myself on being a person who is straightforward, who has the ability to use some common sense and will apply some practical solutions to problems and will provide vision,” Terwilliger said.
Joe Pendal, Terwilliger’s press secretary, said the senator’s early start in the race was intended to increase his name recognition and contact with people throughout the state in time for the state gubernatorial primary.
“He is in no way going to thumb his nose at the process,” Pendal said, “with the realization that a primary is certainly in his future.”
Pendal added that Terwilliger faced an extra challenge running against the lieutenant governor simply because of the office she holds.
“It’s a great position to be running from,” Pendal said. “It’s symbolically a better position to be running from than state senator because she has more access to the whole state.”
Republican political observers speculate, though, that Terwilliger’s toughest competition will likely come from former U.S. Representative Vin Weber, who left his position in 1992 and has expressed interest in the governor’s seat since that time.
Terwilliger spoke with students about his background in banking, business and the government before opening up the discussion for questions.
College Republican Treasurer Jennifer Halko asked the senator how, as governor, he would help lead the University through the next decade.
“The governance of the University, the Board of Regents, needs to be addressed,” Terwilliger responded, calling the regent selection process “extremely political.
“I believe that the governor has a leadership role here to play…I don’t think he should be micromanaging the University, but I think he should be willing to stand up to go to bat for the University before the Legislature as far as dollars and cents.”
Halko said she agreed with Terwilliger that the regent-selection process should be reformed to hire the best possible candidates. Halko, who supports Benson, said she agreed for the most part with Terwilliger’s self-described “mainstream” political beliefs.
College Republican Chairman Marc Richards said the senator seemed knowledgeable about fiscal issues but didn’t answer to other areas of concern such as welfare reform, transportation and environmental issues. “He seemed to be avoiding the questions sometimes, wasn’t too concrete,” Richards said.
Congressman Gil Gutknecht, who is in town for the governor’s State of the State Address, will speak to the group tonight.