Campaign for the Capitol 2010

Paul Thissen's campaign for governor has gained momentum since his strong showing at the DFL caucuses.

Gubernatorial candidate Paul Thissen hopes to restore security to the state of Minnesota by reforming health care, creating jobs and providing access to affordable higher education.

Paul Thissen said the idea to run for governor came to him when he was on the road.

The drive from Minneapolis to the southwestern corner of the state, where he was campaigning for other DFL candidates for the Minnesota House of Representatives, provided him ample opportunity to think about the state’s future.

“Traveling around the state and meeting with people motivated me to think that we could be doing better in Minnesota,” Thissen said. “And I could play a part in making that happen.”

His idea to run for governor was all his own, but it was his wife who first encouraged him to run for his current spot in the House of Representatives. In 2002, he was elected to represent parts of Minneapolis and has served the area for the last eight years. He has served as chairman of the Health Care and Human Services Committee since 2007.

His campaign for governor has gained momentum since his strong showing at the DFL caucuses in February, where he garnered more than 7 percent of the party straw poll.

Even before that, Thissen was doing a good job fundraising, bringing in more than $253,000 in 2009, fourth among DFL candidates.

Thissen said he wants to restore security to the state through reforming health care, providing access to affordable higher education and creating jobs.
“We don’t want to let families live in a vulnerable place, but a secure place. That’s the kind of Minnesota I grew up in, and that’s the kind of Minnesota I want to get us back to,” he said.

But Thissen said he isn’t looking to turn back the clock. He wants to make the state succeed in the 21st century by sending a progressive signal to other states.

“We welcome all people, regardless of their background or sexual orientation,” he said.

In February, Thissen introduced the Equal Access Health Care Records bill, which would provide domestic partners access to medical records upon their partner’s death and also allow them to make health-related decisions. The bill passed the Health and Human Services Committee on Monday.
Health care reform is at the forefront of Thissen’s agenda.

His goal is to have everyone in Minnesota covered under a single-payer system, but that’s not where the conversation ends.

Part of his health care plan is to change the way care is delivered. Thissen said he wants to stop the practice of paying by procedure and instead pay doctors and nurses to take care of people. Thissen said he thinks decisions regarding care should be made by physicians and patients, not employers and insurance providers.

“There’s nobody in the race that understands the complexity of the health care issues at the level I do,” Thissen said — and the Minnesota Nurses Association agrees.

Linda Hamilton, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, said Thissen’s health care reform record was the main motivator for the group’s endorsement of his campaign for governor.

Even Republicans he works with speak highly of his expertise in the area.
Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, who serves as lead GOP on the Health Care and Human Services Committee, said Thissen’s health care knowledge is his strength.

Abeler has been a chiropractor for 31 years and said he appreciates that Thissen listens to concerns from health professionals.

“Paul would be a reasonable governor,” Abeler said, but he stopped short of endorsing the DFLer’s campaign.

Although he is known mostly for his policies on health care, Thissen is also looking to bring change to higher education.

He places higher education toward the top of his priorities for the state.
To make college education more affordable, Thissen suggests that two-thirds of funding for higher education come from the public and the remainder come from tuition. This would mean an increase in taxes.

“We all have an interest in getting as strongly educated a populace as possible,” he said.

Thissen has also proposed an act that would provide students who attend college in Minnesota incentive to stay in the state after graduation through a tax credit against repayment of school loans.

Thissen said that in the end, he expects to get the nomination because of his values, not necessarily because of how easily recognizable he is compared to other candidates.

“We’ve been working very hard. We’ve been out to 83 counties, some of them more than once,” he said. “We’re putting more miles on than anybody else in the field to win in November.”

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Published: 03/11/2010
Cali Owings