FAIRMONT - Scott Honour describes himself not as a politician but as a businessman who spent his career buying companies and transforming them into successful enterprises. He wants to do the same for the state of Minnesota.
More than a year ago, Honour became the first Republican to announce his candidacy for governor. He eschewed the scramble to win the party's endorsement, focusing instead on assembling a campaign team and fundraising.
"I want to give back, and this needs doing," he said. "I see our state going the wrong way. I see the state really harming itself.
"We're past the trough of the Great Recession, but I think our state is underachieving its potential."
He cites overregulation as one of the culprits slowing economic growth.
"Government is trying to guide industry," he said. "Government should just stay out of the way."
He says regulatory burdens should be reduced, making the state more attractive to business and industry, and ultimately creating more jobs.
"Minnesota is the last in [business] startups," he said. "The No. 1 issue is regulations. Taxes are an issue too."
He uses Fargo-Moorhead as an example.
"We're losing a competitive battle. Since 1980, Fargo has outgrown Moorhead seven to one," he said.
"We need to create a competitive advantage. Agriculture is a place we can have a competitive advantage. We don't want to put Minnesota farmers at a disadvantage to farmers in Iowa or South Dakota."
Making government more efficient is another of Honour's goals. He would like Minnesota to become more like Indiana, where leaders "cut the scale of government every year for 10 years."
"It's doable. I'm willing to make changes, and I don't view sacred cows as being sacrosanct," he said.
He also believes changes must happen in education.
"We have some of the worst graduation rates for minorities in the country," he said. "Politicians, as a whole, think the answer is to spend more money."
Honour argues teacher pay should be based on performance, not longevity. And he says Gov. Mark Dayton has bowed to the teachers unions on this matter.
Honour isn't concerned about not having his party endorsement and looks forward to the Aug. 12 primary with confidence.
"Voters really like the idea of somebody coming from the private sector," he said.
He will face Jeff Johnson, the party-endorsed candidate; Kurt Zellers, former Speaker of the House; and Marty Seifert, former House minority leader.
Honour lives in Orono, a few miles from where he grew up in Mound, with his wife Jamie, their two sons and one daughter.
He attended Pepperdine University, followed by graduate studies at the Wharton School of Business.
"Over the last decade, I've raised $4 billion in equity. I've had a lot of success. I'm used to hard work. That gets me energized," he said.