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Lourey announces bid for governor
By Laura McCallum
Minnesota Public Radio
November 15, 2001

State Sen. Becky Lourey has officially entered the 2002 governor's race. The DFLer from northern Minnesota says she's running for governor because 'the state needs a leader, not a celebrity.' Gov. Ventura hasn't said whether he's running for a second term. A year before the election, Lourey is the first Democrat to formally announce a gubernatorial bid, but she won't be the last.

Becky Lourey at campaign announcement
Born: 9/24/43, Little Falls, Mn.
Personal: Married to Eugene, 12 children. Lives in Kerrick Township
Occupation: State senator. Elected 1990 to House of Representatives. Elected to Senate in 1996.
Committees: Agriculture and Rural Development; Health and Family Security; Children, Families and Learning; Family and Early Childhood Education Budget Division; Health and Family Security Budget Division; Human Rourecdes Finance; Local and Metropolitan Government
Listen to her campaign announcement

(MPR Photo/Stephanie Hemphill)

Lourey and her husband own a small data-management company, and live on a farm in rural Kerrick, where they used to raise livestock and hay. Lourey is the mother of 12 children, eight of them adopted. She says her life experiences qualify her to run the state.

"I learned leadership the hard way: by making tough farming decisions, tough business decisions, tough family decisions, and tough legislative decisions. I raised 12 children while keeping a farm running and at the same time starting a small business," she said at a campaign stop in St. Paul.

Lourey is widely viewed as one of the more liberal legislators. In her 11 years at the Capitol, she's been a passionate advocate for children, seniors and family farmers. Lourey says she wants to replace Gov. Jesse Ventura because he hasn't done enough to invest in education, health care and other priorities.

"His leadership has been very exciting. We've attracted a lot of attention. But now it's time to get down to the real work of making sure we have a strong economic base," she said.

Lourey wouldn't say whether investing in the priorities she outlined would require tax increases. The state is likely to experience its first budget shortfall in a decade when the next revenue forecast is released early next month. Lourey says she'll wait and see what the numbers show.

Lourey has been raising money since she formed a campaign committee in August. She's also courting likely DFL convention delegates, and says if she doesn't get the party endorsement next summer, she'll drop out of the race.

Lourey's main competitor for party endorsement is State Auditor Judi Dutcher. Lourey says she's a stronger candidate because of her support on the Iron Range. "I know what's going to create a good base, and I know that I can win. It's very tough for urban women to win a statewide race; it's very difficult to get the 8th (Congressional District), and I'm from the 8th," she said.

Political observers say while Lourey's strength is the 8th Congressional District, Dutcher has more statewide name recognition. And the two-term auditor has already won a statewide race.

Political science professor Craig Grau from the University of Minnesota-Duluth says that may not matter to the party faithful. He says activists like Lourey's enthusiasm, and her emphasis on traditional liberal themes.

"I think it'll play better with the Democratic Party endorsement process than it might statewide. But we'll have to see what the issues are going to be. Things are a little turbulent, as they say, since Sept. 11, and whether that'll change or not, I'm not sure," Grau said.

Dutcher says she won't formally enter the race until after the first of the year. She's been exploring a run since the spring. She's locked up some high-profile party support, including a couple of major DFL contributors.

Dutcher says the race between her and Lourey won't be acrimonious, and will stick to the issues. Like Lourey, she's stressing her experience. "And frankly, I know that my background as a criminal prosecutor for seven years, as state auditor for the past seven years, given the types of issues that the state is facing, particularly after the Sept. 11 events, people are really looking to someone that can make difficult decisions, and do it in a decisive and informed way.

Dutcher says she'll be surprised if no other Democrats jump into the race. DFLer Ole Savior, a Minneapolis artist, has also filed a campaign committee. On the Republican side, House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty, entrepreneur Brian Sullivan and accountant Michael Vekich say they're in the race.

The wild card is Gov. Ventura. He says he won't announce whether he's running again until the filing period next summer.

More Information
  • Becky Lourey for Governor Web site