CLOQUET, Minn. — Four people passed microphones across a table, sometimes echoing one another, sometimes striking out on their own. One of them might be elected governor — in about 400 days.
Tim Walz, Erin Murphy, Rebecca Otto and Tina Liebling took questions in a moderated forum Wednesday night well ahead of caucuses and an eventual DFL endorsement in next year’s governor’s race. The four elected officials made their pitches to about 75 people gathered at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.
Liebling, a state representative from Rochester, said she’s a voice for Greater Minnesota.
“I’ve always made decisions that are for the ordinary people,” she said.
Otto, the three-term state auditor who lives in rural Washington County, presented a clean-energy-jobs program and took a hard stand against sulfide mining.
“These multinational corporations have not been good players locally. They’re there to serve their shareholders,” she said. “We’re nice but we’re not naive.”
Murphy, a state representative from St. Paul and former majority leader, came out in favor of single-payer health care and touted her time as a nurse and organizing with the Minnesota Nurses Association.
“Health care is a human right,” she said. “It is time for us now to build the infrastructure behind that.” Otto and Liebling also support single-payer insurance.
Walz, the First District congressman from Mankato, said he’s a coalition-builder who understands well the “F” in DFL.
“I get the support of the corn growers, and I get the Sierra Club,” he said.
Two other DFL gubernatorial candidates, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and state Rep. Paul Thiesson of Minneapolis, were not at the forum Wednesday night. Rep. Mike Sundin, DFL-Esko, previously endorsed Thiesson.
Many of those in the audience were party insiders who could play an early role in guiding the DFL’s endorsement, and