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Obama-care in Scott Honour’s sights in run for governor

In a bid for governor, Scott Honour is vying for Republic support come the primaries. DL NEWSPAPERS/Nathan Bowe

If energy and confidence could be converted into votes, Scott Honour would be a shoe-in to win the Republican primary for governor on Aug. 12.

Honour fairly radiates both, and though he has no political experience, he wants to bring his planning skills, troubleshooting acumen and fix-the-problem attitude to the governor’s office.

Whether it’s reducing the size of state government or disinvesting the state of (nearly) all things associated with Obamacare, “you have to have the attitude that you can succeed,” he says.

To him, succeeding can be a matter of honor.

In 1999, he launched Yapstone, a tech company that provided a secure way to pay rent online. Family and friends provided him with several million dollars in start-up funding.

Then the tech bubble burst, stock prices plummeted, and Yapstone went from 40 employees to just one. “We kept at it,” he said. “We knew we had to give it everything we had to make it work.”

Now called, the company has 240 employees and Honour was able to make sure his family and friends didn’t lose their millions in start-up funding. Honour, who lives in Wayzata, later went on to great success leading the Gores Group venture capital firm.

He helped raise money for Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney, and now brings that fundraising prowess to his own campaign. As of a few weeks ago, he had raised about $1.2 million in the campaign so far, and had nearly $227,000 cash on hand. About half of that total was self-funded, Honour said.

He had raised more than twice as much, and had more than twice as much money on hand, as his nearest primary opponent, Kurt Zellers.

As a believer in term limits, Honour said he will not serve more than two terms as governor.

He says it comes down to leadership, and he believes “career politicians” are too ready to give up the fight for leaner government and settle for the status quo.

As voters and taxpayers, he says, “the government is here to serve us as customers and provide us the best service as owners – we deserve the best value possible.”

And he doesn’t spare “career Republican politicians” from his criticism.

A major difference he has with one of his primary opponents, Mary Seifert, is that Seifert is willing to try to improve the MNsure health insurance exchange website.

“Seifert wants to focus on fixing it,” he said.

Honour criticized Seifert and other Republican lawmakers that he said have been “too willing to fund or fix broken DFL programs,” like MNsure.

Honour wants to shut down the MNsure website and let the state default to the federal Affordable Care Act website.

The MNsure site has been unreliable and has cost the state too much money, he says. “Let’s not put good money after bad,” he added.

Honour applauded a recent appeals court panel ruling that federal subsidies cannot go to those who use the federal Obamacare exchange, only to those that use state-built sites.

If  that decision holds up in higher court and if the state switches to the federal website, it will come that much closer to killing Obamacare, he says.

“It will be a great way to get rid of Obamacare as a whole,” he said. “I’m with the majority of Minnesotans who think Obamacare is a bad idea.”

The only thing worth salvaging from the Affordable Care Act might be the provision that those with preexisting conditions cannot be refused coverage, he said.

He advocates health savings accounts and similar programs.

“We have to do something with that broad uninsured population,” he said.

Honour also criticized primary opponent Jeff Johnson for saying in an Associated Press interview that there probably would not be time to address long-term budget   issues until the second biennial budget.

“I’m afraid Jeff has fallen into the trap of the political insider world,” Honour said in a news release, “where they look at the budget only through the lens of whether or not the numbers add up and they take the attitude that we don’t have enough time to figure out the budget this biennium.

“That is the sort of defeatist approach we need to get away from … It’s not just that government is regularly out of balance; it’s that it’s too big and tries to do too much.”

For his part, Johnson says Honour’s pledge to immediately cut the budget 10 percent across the board isn’t realistic, because the Minnesota Senate will still be controlled by Democrats.

Johnson says candidates can promise the world, but he likes to be straightforward and honest with people.

Lowering the influence of unions, especially public employee unions, is one way to make Minnesota more economically competitive, Honour said.

He wants to make Minnesota a “right to work” state. Public employee unions “do not serve the interest of our state,” he said.

He’d like to change the state’s public education system to provide more student choice, with state dollars following the student. He’d like to cut school administration costs and pay good teachers a better salary.

Honour says he’s the best candidate to take on DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, who has the power of incumbency and a $750,000 campaign war chest.

“I haven’t served with government before,” he said. “What I have done is get stuff done.”

That means figuring out a vision for the state, planning it out, executing it, and measuring the results, just like he did as a venture capital executive.

Minnesota’s business climate is bad and its economy is still shaky, Honour said. “People of this state want a better life for themselves and their families,” he added.

Republicans in general, he said, have “done a crappy job” of explaining to the public how conservative free-market programs can “help make all our lives better.”

If Honour wins the governorship in November, he’ll have to deal with a DFL-controlled Senate for sure and possibly a DFL-controlled House as well.

His business experience will help there, as well, he says. “I’ve been in more negotiations than anyone else running,” and his experience gives him the tools to “get to common ground.”

He said he will focus on the state budget and take a “very comprehensive approach” to cutting costs.

Honour and his running mate, State Sen. Karin Housley, have the support of conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham, who will be at an Honour rally at 4 p.m. Aug. 3 at Lake Ann Park in Chanhassen.