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Lourey joins race for governor

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State Sen. Becky Lourey announced Tuesday she is running for governor in 2006. Lourey, a DFLer from Kerrick in northeastern Minnesota, said Gov. Tim Pawlenty has led Minnesota in the wrong direction, and she promised "a clear, viable alternative; a vision that calls for smarter investments in Minnesota resulting in a vibrant state economy." (MPR Photo/Bob Kelleher)
State Sen. Becky Lourey has officially entered the race for the DFL nomination for governor. Lourey is a three-term state senator from the east central Minnesota town of Kerrick.

Bruno, Minn. — Becky Lourey used the backdrop of her family's research and software business in Bruno to launch her second bid for Minnesota governor. Lourey sought the office in 2002, but lost the DFL nomination to Roger Moe.

Lourey spoke for about half an hour, first telling her story of growing up in Little Falls, Minn., and how a speech by then Gov. Orville Freeman inspired her to public service.

"I considered this challenge, because of my sense of duty, and a strong commitment to a better Minnesota, which comes of my wide array of life's experiences, including a wonderful childhood, and nurturing parents," she said.

Lourey spelled out her campaign platform, including her long-term commitment to affordable health care.

"As governor, I will put in place a solution that helps our business community succeed, and treats our citizens fairly. Let's put a governor in office who can achieve universal health care," she told supporters.

And Lourey took several swipes at Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and his policies. Lourey blamed Pawlenty for increasing property taxes on small businesses, farms, and homes, while Minnesota cities have been forced to cut services. She calls his tax free zones - known as Job-Z zones - a failure.

She says Minnesota is losing its competitive edge, and that Minnesota ranks in the bottom half, nationally, in too many key investment measures.

"Our total education rank is 29th," she said. "Our police protection ranks 36th. And fire protection is 47th. For our students that means far too many schools have 34 kids in their 3rd grade classrooms. As governor, I will bring Minnesota back to a high rank in education investments, not 46th in the nation."

And Lourey made it clear the war in Iraq could become a campaign issue. She says businesses, communities, and families are burdened by long deployments of Minnesota's National Guard units.

"We all know that our Minnesota Guard was always intended primarily for in-state activities, but that is no longer the case," she said.

Her administration, she says, will work to bring the troops home. Lourey's opposition to the war is well know,. In May, her Army pilot son, Matt, died when his helicopter was shot down over Iraq. In August Lourey went to Texas to support an anti-war protest outside President Bush's ranch.

Lourey's rural base could play in her favor, according to Craig Grau, a political analyst and professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

"She's really the only candidate that I've seen so far, that is identified with what the Twin Cities likes to call "outstate" Minnesota, or what we would call "greater" Minnesota. And she has some of those values, such as she isn't afraid to say that she can shoot a gun," he said.

He says Lourey has a following among some DFL activists, with a reputation for being passionate on issues. And Grau says Lourey could be helped by being the only woman in the race.

"There are women who think it's about time that women got one of the major positions in Minnesota, since they've done it in all sorts of other states, and we're supposed to be a progressive state, and yet we have not elected a women to the governorship, to attorney general, or to a U.S. Senate seat," he said.

Lourey says she's undecided whether she would continue her bid into the primaries, if she doesn't get the DFL nomination. She says she will abide by campaign spending limits.

Lourey enters a DFL race for governor that includes Attorney General Mike Hatch, state Sen. Steve Kelley, and businessman Kelly Doran.