Campaign for the Capitol: Margaret Anderson Kelliher

Kelliher, the Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, is running for governor to make government more accountable.

Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives Margaret Kelliher will seek the DFL endorsement for governor in 2010.

Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives Margaret Kelliher will seek the DFL endorsement for governor in 2010.

Anissa Stocks

As a young girl growing up in Mankato, Minn., Margaret Anderson Kelliher was taught a lesson that shaped her future: hard work and perseverance are essential to good politics. On Sept. 16, Kelliher, the Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives, announced she would seek the DFL endorsement for governor in 2010. Since, she has whirled across the state making public appearances to showcase a campaign that calls for increased priorities in MinnesotaâÄôs education, health care and economy. Kelliher, who represents Minneapolis in the Legislature, grew up on a dairy farm where she was active in organizations such as 4-H, serving as state president. As a teenager, she earned the title of Minnesota Dairy Queen and participated in protests at the Capitol during the 1980s. âÄúI became interested in what was happening in Washington and at [the state Capitol] while experiencing firsthand how economic trends affect people,âÄù she said. âÄúThatâÄôs where my passion for this developed.âÄù The youngest of six children, Kelliher recalls her familyâÄôs farm surviving hard times during the farm crisis of the 1980s. âÄúI know what itâÄôs like to struggle. My brothers had to get town jobs because our family could no longer afford health care,âÄù she said. âÄúIt is instances like these that make me understand MinnesotaâÄôs need for a move toward universal health care.âÄù With the health care debate raging in Washington, Kelliher calls for a government that ensures goals are met to reduced costs of medical attention and prevent illness before it happens. âÄúMany Minnesotans IâÄôve met never take home a dime from their paychecks because its entirety goes toward health insurance,âÄù Kelliher said. The progressive DFLer has spent more than two years as Speaker during a period she called, âÄúa rebuilding of multi-partisan politics.âÄù Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, who is acting as treasurer for KelliherâÄôs campaign, said that the campaign strives to drive interest and understanding with voters of all political persuasions. Both Kelliher and Dibble said civility has been missing at the Capitol, something Kelliher can overcome. Kelliher said she emphasized multi-partisan politics as speaker, helping to bridge the gap between parties. âÄúI believe in my ability to connect to across party lines,âÄù she said. âÄúIâÄôm a person whoâÄôs comfortable driving a minivan and a tractor, and one who can drive the state toward justice, progressivity and fairness.âÄù Kelliher lead the House of Representatives, including six Republicans, to override of a Gov. Tim Pawlenty veto in 2008, passing a transportation bill that accounts for nearly $6.6 billion in spending over a period of ten years. âÄúWe built a coalition between Democrats and Republicans, between business and labor,âÄù she said. âÄúI am someone who brings people together. I know the issues that are important to Minnesotans. I understand their uncertainties.âÄù Kelliher contends PawlentyâÄôs administration has disinvested in Minnesota. Her campaign stresses the need for government accountability. If elected governor, Kelliher said she plans to repair MinnesotaâÄôs schools from ground up. Kelliher said under PawlentyâÄôs administration, there has been a reversal in public funding for higher education. For the first time this year, the University of Minnesota gets more funding from tuition than it does from the state. Kelliher said she hopes to overturn current education issues by advocating for increased funding to schools without increased debt to students. Education is at the core of KelliherâÄôs campaign. She said in order to have a productive and creative workforce, a strong public education system is imperative. As a woman in government, Kelliher has found comfort in hundreds of supporters who want change. âÄúWeâÄôve never had a female governor. Maybe thatâÄôs something we should try,âÄù Kelliher said.