On the campaign trail: Republican gubernatorial candidate visits Bemidji

BEMIDJI -- Election season is in full swing, with candidates storming through the state in search of votes and donations.

On Tuesday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Honour came to Bemidji to talk with local residents and supporters on why he should emerge from the Aug. 12 primary.

Honour met with local residents over the noon hour at the Eagles Club, visiting the Pioneer's office before the luncheon.

Honour said his small-town roots and success in the business world make him the ideal candidate to win the primary and ultimately unseat Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

Honour grew up in Mound, Minn., where his father worked as a pilot and his mother as a stay-at-home mom, he said. When his father lost his job and started a boat lift manufacturing business, Honour went to work for him. After high school, he worked multiple minimum wage jobs to put himself through college, he said, where he studied business and economics and became the first person in his family to graduate with a college degree.

"I didn't come from any financial means," said Honour, who went on to multiple success in business and is considered the wealthiest of all the Republican challengers.

It's that successes in business that Honour claims makes him a strong choice as a candidate for governor.

"One of the things that I know from my business career is you can always find a way to lower costs and get better outcomes," he said. "But we don't have anyone in the state government that has that attitude nor has the background to know how to get that done, including other Republicans."

The issues

Honour said he wants to to fix the state economy by lowering taxes and creating more jobs. He said Minnesota is chasing businesses away instead of attracting new companies to the state. To meet his goals, he wants the state to simplify the tax code and spend less money.

"This state has terrific advantages in natural resources, in human talent -- we have a terrific work ethic but we're underachieving our potential today because we're not taking advantage of how to foster growth in a way that will give everyone opportunity," he said.

To create jobs in areas such as Beltrami County, Honour said he would recruit business to the state by easing the regulatory environment surrounding businesses.

In education, he said the state is "underachieving across the board" and criticized Dayton's association with teachers' unions, saying the basic skills test should be reinstated and teachers should be paid based on performance.

"We have a governor who is basically acting at the behest of the teacher's union and putting forth policies that are causing us to not have the best teachers in the classrooms," he said.

Honour also praised Monday's Supreme Court rulings concerning the federal Affordable Care Act in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and the question of union fees for child care providers in Harris v. Quinn. Honour called it a "great day for America."

"At the end of the day our constitutional rights were upheld," he said.

Honour said the case of Harris v. Quinn is important in Minnesota because it highlights the rights of child care providers in the state.

"Their rights are being inhibited by Gov. Dayton and his plan to unionize childcare providers, which hurts everyone," Honour said.

Honour is running in the Republican primary running against state Rep. Kurt Zellers, former House minority leader Marty Seifert and the officially endorsed GOP candidate Jeff Johnson.

He said although this is his first run for a political office, he is confident he can win the primary and the general election. Because of his business background, he said he won't have to cater to special interests, allowing him "free reign to make the best decisions for the state."

Honour is not new to fundraising, as well. In the 2012 presidential election, he first raised money for former Gov. Tim Pawlenty before chairing Mitt Romney's Minnesota fundraising team.

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Honour raised $573,330 in the first five months this year, including a $300,000 personal loan to his campaign. By comparison, the other three Republicans are lagging behind, although Johnson's campaign told the Pioneer Press earlier this month that his campaign was on track to meet the $1 million mark by the primary. Meanwhile Dayton has been preparing for re-election and by the May 31 had more than $750,000 on hand, the paper reported.

Honour said he plans on winning the election by swaying independent voters in both the primary and general elections.

"People recognize that Governor Dayton is just leading the state in the wrong direction. They know it. He has no vision, he's a failed leader, and he's making decisions that are taking us on exactly the wrong path," he said.

Malachi Petersen