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Entenza announces bid for governor

Matt Entenza (center) announces his bid to run for Minnesota governor in 2010 during a press conference Thursday morning in the Worthington High School media center. Staff photo by Ryan McGaughey - Worthington Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Former Minnesota House Minority Leader Matt Entenza announced his bid for governor Thursday morning, returning to his high school alma mater to make his announcement alongside former teachers, as well as family and friends.

Entenza, a Democrat who now lives in St. Paul, served in the Minnesota Legislature for 12 years, and later founded Minnesota 2020, a non-partisan think tank that studies state public policy issues. On Thursday, he credited Worthington as a source of his success.

"When I was 15 and lost my father to alcoholism, this is the town that rallied around me and my family," Entenza said before a crowd that included supporters, Worthington city officials and Worthington High School students.

"It's where I learned about following your dreams and where I got a terrific education that enabled me to go on to get scholarships and go to college," Entenza added. "They (Worthington teachers and the community) made sure I grew up in an environment where every child could be successful."

Entenza said his campaign will revolve around three core principles: growing jobs by focusing on the potential of the clean energy economy; providing better educational opportunities to children and those seeking higher education; and ensuring health care for all.

"I'm declaring my candidacy for governor because Minnesota needs a vision of where it's going to go," Entenza said. "I offer a vision of how Minnesota can grow its economy, and how it can grow its jobs."

Noting the wind turbines that stand on Worthington's outskirts, Entenza stressed that more turbines and their components -- along with such renewable energy products as solar collectors -- need to be produced in Minnesota.

While honoring former WHS teachers Mary Beth Blegen and Al Swanson, who both stood alongside Entenza Thursday morning, the newly declared candidate said "Minnesota has lost its way in education," and that the state's schools, once leaders, have become "laggards." On health care, Entenza called for "Medicare for all," explaining that all Minnesotans should be guaranteed care, regardless of where they live in the state.

Rural issues will also be an emphasis of the campaign, Entenza promised.

"Worthington and all towns like Worthington that made it possible for me to be successful are going to be at the forefront of the things we want to do," he said, adding later: "I think this budget is being balanced on the back of rural Minnesota and communities like Worthington."

Entenza noted that seven local police departments have been forced to shut down as a result of necessary budget cuts stemming from reductions in state aid.

"I know there's probably going to be cuts ... but they're going to have to be done proportionately," Entenza said.

In announcing his candidacy, Entenza joins State Sen. John Marty of Roseville as DFLers who are seeking Minnesota's highest public office. Other DFL candidates who have taken steps include former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, Sen. Tom Bakk, state Rep. Paul Thissen, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner and former state Sen. Steve Kelley.

Entenza's last bid for public office did not go smoothly, as he decided to bow out of the 2006 race for Minnesota Attorney General after reports that he paid a researcher to gather information on a fellow Democrat. Entenza said Thursday he made the choice to withdraw his AG bid "to not be a distraction" for the rest of his party's ticket.

"The reality is candidates have to do research," Entenza said. "Al Franken got widely criticized for not doing research .... The reality is Democrats do research, and Republicans do research."

Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Ron Carey released a statement shortly after Entenza's gubernatorial announcement.

"Matt Entenza's announcement and rehabilitation tour across the state serve as a mere sideshow to distract from a checkered history of blind ambition culminating in his withdrawal from the 2006 attorney general campaign in disgrace," Carey said. "This record of dishonesty, lack of transparency and power-hungry politics and his inability to be truthful about them makes him completely unfit to serve as our state's top elected official."

Entenza was also scheduled to visit Mankato, Rochester, Hibbing, Duluth, Bemidji and East Grand Forks on Thursday. He will return to southwest Minnesota today, as he will be at Luverne's Coffey Haus from 9 to 10 a.m. and Worthington's Prairie View Golf Links from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.