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Gubernatorial Candidate Profile
Allen Quist
By Karen Louise Boothe
February 25, 1998
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Allen Quist lost the '94 primary election in a landslide to incumbent governor Arne Carlson. Quist won the party endorsement from the Republican State convention delegates. But his primary loss illustrated the party's problem in the state: party activists are much more conservative than the average Republican voter.

Governor Carlson appealed to moderates and that's why he snubbed the endorsement process to go on and win the primary and eventually the general election over John Marty.

Quist appears to be distancing himself from the 1994 loss and the platform of conservative moral issues on which he ran. He says, the political climate has changed in the last four years and today's number one issue is not so-called "family values" but education.

Quist: So I am spending three fourths of time on education. I don't know if you call that a social issue or not; I don't, but it certainly has economic ramifications.

Quist favors school testing in grades three, five, and eight and would also include testing at the high school level at the beginning and end of the school year. He also encourages the teaching of phonics for reading and he wants greater emphasis on basic skills like reading, writing, mathematics, and science, including computer literacy.

Quist is not alone in his campaign talk over education. It's a major piece of every candidate's campaign this year and ranks as the number one issue in public opinion polls. Taxes ranks second. And like other candidates, Quist talks about property tax reform. For example, he wouldn't have it bankroll k-12 education. Another proposal would be to repeal the marriage tax.

Quist says while he has broadened his platform to spotlight education as his number one issue, one he hopes will have a broader appeal among average voters, he still maintains his strong 1994 foothold among conservative party activists. He says many of the same delegates who handed him the endorsement that year will be delegates at this year's nominating convention in Minneapolis.

Quist: People who say the delegates are more moderate or the state is more moderate, don't know the delegates. I know the delegates. I talk with them all of the time.

But if last fall's straw poll didn't signal a shift in delegates social beliefs, it showed them to perhaps be more pragmatic when they tossed their support behind Lieutenant Governor Joanne Benson. Benson argued she, and not Allen Quist, is the most electable candidate.

Despite his loss in the straw poll last fall, Quist maintains his faith in the nominating convention process, and says he'll prevail.

Quist: You know the preamble to the Minnesota constitution says, that the constitution exists to guarantee the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity and that's me.

But he says he'll still abide by the endorsement process, ending his campaign if he fails to win over a majority of delegates in June.

Other Republican hopefuls in the race are Lieutenant Governor Joanne Benson, St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, who leads his challengers in this week's Minnesota Public Radio - St. Paul Pioneer Press - KARE-11 TV poll, and Waverly businessman Dick Borrell.

Alan Quist's web site