I’m taking a brief break from Halloween to focus on the other Big Thing happening in our lives right now – the “race” for Governor of Minnesota. Not really much of a race. More like a leisurely stroll. This morning I listened to the latest campaign event – Minnesota Public Radio’s staging of a “job interview” for the three candidates. “Pretend you are interviewing to be CEO of Minnesota,” was the recommendation for the contenders before the questions started. How did they do? Poorly. If you’ve ever really flubbed a job interview, don’t feel bad about it – even highly coached politicians with people on staff to tell them what to say suck at it.
Here is my take on what I heard. Obviously, I have my own spin. You can listen to the whole thing, should you feel so inclined, here.
Oh, let me preface by saying that all the people in the audience who asked questions did a good job. I thought there were great questions (as did Tom Horner, as you’ll soon see) and they really wanted some specific answers. Alas, the word “specific” and “political campaign” are like oil and water.
- Mark Dayton: DFL candidate for Governor. He served in the U.S. Senate from 2001-2007, and was Minnesota State Auditor from 1991-1995.
- Tom Emmer: Republican candidate for Governor. He represented Delano in the state legislature from 2005-2010 and is an attorney in private practice.
- Tom Horner: Independence Party candidate for Governor. Former owner, Himle Horner public relations firm
So let’s get to it!
Question for Horner: Give an example of a time when you acted as a CEO would and assembled a team, led them and produced excellent results.
Horner: Yes, I was a CEO, so this is a great question for me. Blah, blah, blah, blah. Team. Blah blah blah blah. Great results. Blah blah blah. Oh, and blah.
Questioner: Uh, I guess I was looking for a specific example of what your results were. What did you specifically accomplish?
Horner: Well, we led the way in blah blah blah. Old people.
Question for Emmer: What would you say is your biggest flaw?
Emmer: My fast-pace, breakneck speed. Although I haven’t exercised since 1987.
Moderator to questioner: Does that answer your question?
Questioner: grumpy mumbling
Question for Dayton: What would your kindergarten teacher say about you?
Dayton: Oh, this takes me back! You know, I remember when my third grade teacher won Best Teacher Ever and I went to the ceremony and she said, “I always knew you’d turn out to be trouble.”
Moderator: Uh, because that’s not true, right?
Question for Dayton: Do you think you are capable of surprising anyone in this state? (Essentially this means: do you think you’re an interesting, intelligent person?)
Dayton: III..I..ahah…wawawawawa… du duhduh…
Questioner: Do you think you have hidden qualities that people don’t know about?
Dayton: My best years lie ahead of me.
Questioner: So is that a yes?
Dayton: YES (now get off my back!)
Question for Emmer: Tell me about a time when you were less than honest in this campaign and when that is OK in a job interview?
Emmer: I’ve been totally honest throughout this entire campaign! Now, because this question makes me very uncomfortable, let me start talking about my budget proposal, which has nothing to do with this question.
Question for Horner: Innovation is very important now as we try to get our economy back on track. Give me some examples of how you’ve been innovative.
Horner: GREAT QUESTION! How about in my campaign? We did Twitter Town Hall Meetings! How about my platform? I want to raise money by taxing clothes!
Question for all: What former governor of Minnesota do you like least? Compare your leadership style.
Emmer: I love everyone! I’m Tom Emmer! I’m not going to govern like Tim Pawlenty or Al Qui.
Questioner: This is about a job interview, not a debate. You didn’t answer the question.
Emmer: I answered it!
Dayton: I like Rudy Perpich. He was cool.
Horner: GREAT QUESTION.
Question for Horner: What are the qualities you look for in cabinet members?
Horner: The best quality people! I don’t want low quality people! If it’s the Ag post I want someone who knows about Ag. A gentleman farmer with a law degree would be nice… (Horner rattles on for another minute-and-a-half, dropping words like Honesty, Integrity, Compassion, Excellence, Lead By Example, Inspiring, Expertise, thus falling into one of the Job Interview Pitfalls – rambling on when you know you should just shut up.)
Question for Dayton: What have you done in the past to bring people together when they had major differences?
Dayton: The Senate (Is it wise for Dayton to bring up his time in the Senate?)
Question for Emmer: As the head of an organization, when have you had to slash a budget?
Emmer: Ya can’t spend more than ya have comin’ in. (Emmer then gives an explanation of what budgeting is, in case we don’t know, and then tries to turn the event back into a debate by putting his opponents down. He is scolded by the moderator)
Question for Emmer: Who is a governor supervised by?
Emmer: Everyone! (One can hear the relief in his voice as he thinks, “Thank God for a softball question.”)
Question for Emmer: Minnesota is becoming more diverse everyday. When have you reached across a cultural divide?
Emmer: Everyday! Oh, Lord, everyday! I don’t look at people based on cultural differences, skin color, religion. I treat everyone the same. (At this point an elephant tiptoes into the room and stands in the back, taunting Emmer) I don’t judge anyone based on their… differences. OK, OK, except the gays. I can’t stand those gays!
Question for Dayton: Describe a perfect day in your life away from the campaign.
Dayton: Spending the day with my two sons and two dogs. I have two German Shepherds and I just found out one of them has cancer so I want to spend as much time with her as I can. (I am now voting for Dayton. Well, as if there was ever a question… But really the part about the sick German Shepherd is the only thing that made him endearing.)
Question For Emmer: If you weren’t in the room, what would your wife say is your biggest weakness?
Emmer: Oh… ha ha. Ha ha ha. Well, we’ve been married for… what? 25 years? 24 years? Had 7 kids. I know what she’d say – I care too much!
Questioner: Is that really a weakness?
Emmer: Sure! Sure it is! When you start talking about all the kids in the neighborhood and they all want ice cream and I’ve got seven kids. Ha ha ha.
Questioner: Mark Dayton, same question?
Dayton: I’m an alcoholic. It’s one day at a time for me.