Last Thursday, CGMC held a gubernatorial candidate forum during its annual summer conference in Winona. In a statement issued on Tuesday, CGMC President Tim Strand, Mayor of St. Peter, thanked candidates Tom Horner and Mark Dayton for accepting the organization’s invitation, and expressed disappointment that Rep. Tom Emmer declined the opportunity to address rural issues at the forum. Rep. Emmer’s choice sparked spirited discussion among greater Minnesota editorial boards. A sampling can be found below.

Winona Daily News, Our view: Emmer’s priorities speak louder than words, 8/21/2010

The slogan on one of Emmer’s campaign brochure states, “Tom Emmer—an authentic leader you can trust.”

We suppose that’s true.

His lack of participation in a debate, instead heading to a fundraiser, is authentic. And we suppose we can trust that he’ll continue such behavior.

On the positive side, many leaders from Greater Minnesota got the opportunity to see Emmer’s commitment, or lack thereof.

Next time Emmer comes rolling through town, we’ll assume it’s because he doesn’t have some other money-making opportunity available.

Mesabi Daily News, Emmer’s no-show sends bad message on rural issues, 8/21/2010

Emmer has begun the conversation about LGA process and how it could be changed, in his opinion, for the better. And that’s a good thing. Each and every state program should be able to stand up to public scrutiny, whether during a political campaign or any other times.

And there would have been no better place for such a debate and discussion of the LGA issue than at the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities meeting…

…If some of Emmer’s responses to questions at the forum would have found displeasure with some of those in attendance, so what. That would have been a honest and forthright discussion of the issues. That’s part of a good give-and-take of a campaign.

But skipping an important event such as this cuts right to the credibility and integrity of the candidate. And that creates a lot of self-inflicted political damage.

Marshall Independent, Emmer a no-show at Greater Minnesota debate, 8/20/2010

Neither Democrat Mark Dayton, nor Republican Tom Emmer has separated himself from the other as a heavy favorite in this year’s gubernatorial race, but Emmer isn’t doing himself any favors by choosing to skip Thursday’s debate being hosted by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities…Debates should take priority this close to an election; they’re the best way for voters to learn about candidates’ views and plans if elected. Besides serving as a platform on issues, candidates can also use debates as ways to question their opponents and, if need be, defend themselves. Choosing a fundraiser over a debate that involves greater Minnesota could come back to haunt Emmer—who wants to restructure how state aid is delivered to cities and counties—and you can bet both Dayton and Independence candidate Tom Horner will take advantage of Emmer’s absence in some way or another.

Bemidji Pioneer, Pioneer Editorial: Rep. Emmer snubs rural state cities, 8/19/2010

By not coming to the CGMC governor’s forum, Rep. Emmer shows disregard for the state’s rural and most often poorest cities, including Bemidji, and their needs. We wonder how quickly he’d sign up for a forum if it were the Greater Twin Cities Suburbs Coalition, where the wealth is.

Detroit Lakes Online, Editorial: Emmer should not skip debate, 8/18/2010

When it comes to rural issues, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer hasn’t exactly been reassuring in his campaign so far.

He plans to skip a candidate forum sponsored by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities on Thursday in Winona…

…All the candidates need to get specific about how they will handle the state’s huge budget problem, and voters—and reporters—need to hold their feet to the fire until they get solid answers.

Otherwise, residents in outstate Minnesota will be in for a rude awakening when they find out they’re once again having to deal with the brunt of some huge budget cuts.