ARDEN HILLS -- Aligned on issues and about even in party support, the three major Democratic candidates for governor used a debate Thursday to argue about who's got the best chance to win in November.
In about a month, delegates to the DFL state convention will choose between State Auditor Judi Dutcher, state Sen. Becky Lourey and Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe. Each promises to honor the convention's decision.
At Thursday's forum sponsored by the Business Democrats group, each candidate boasted about his or her chances to beat a Republican or incumbent Gov. Jesse Ventura, if he decides to run.
As someone outside the Legislature, Dutcher said she'd be immune to Ventura's criticism of lawmakers. "When running against a legislator, it is tailor-made for him to say 'You legislators, you're all the same,"' Dutcher said, lowering her voice to imitate the governor.
But Moe, the longest-serving member of the state Senate, said his role as a leader in the Legislature is an asset.
"Three years after (voters) chose entertainment, they're going to choose experience," he said.
Moe described himself as the candidate who "does not need on-the-job training, that can pick it up without missing a beat, that can advance a progressive agenda, that can work with people, that can pull this state together."
Lourey said she has a dozen years of legislative experience but also brings a fresh face to a statewide ticket. Moe was Skip Humphrey's running mate in 1998.
"It's true we all love Roger. We do. But the voters gave us a message in 1998 that they want a new face," Lourey said. "Judi is wonderful, but we don't have a record we can look at."
Lourey added, "You can't put me in a box." She highlighted her credentials as a small business owner, noted that she supports abortion rights but also has adopted eight children and pointed out she has backed gun control measures while owning a gun herself.
A fourth DFLer, Minneapolis artist Ole Savior, was at the debate but didn't participate.
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