Tim Walz, a Mankato Democrat and candidate for governor in 2018, pledged to unify the state. He also promised to help the Twin Cities metropolitan area as much as possible.
Walz, a hunter and a frequent wearer of plaid and camouflage hats and T-shirts, praised his work on rural issues for southern Minnesota. He also highlighted his football coaching skills and promoted other aspects of his agenda. Walz boasted about fixing the clutch on his truck, and promised to increase a state subsidy to local governments that will benefit Greater Minnesota. Walz stated on Twitter that he didn’t need to travel to Greater Minnesota. He simply wakes up there.
His message did reasonably well in Greater Minnesota. Although Walz did not win the vote in the Twin Cities metro area, he did well in Greater Minnesota where he was able to outperform fellow Democrats Tina Smith and Keith Ellison. Walz won the state by 11.4 percentage point over Republican Jeff Johnson.
The governor finally wakes up in St. Paul four years later. Scott Jensen, a former state senator and physician, is his Republican opponent. He hopes to expand his reach outside of the metro to become the governor’s mansion. Walz is seen as a failure in Greater Minnesota because he doesn’t know rural Minnesotans.
Jensen has presented a plan to rural prosperity and electrified many, sparring with governor over other issues: COVID-19 emergency power, governor’s adoption California’s auto emission standards or the attitude of “arrogant cityites” towards farmers.
Minnesota’s statewide elections are won and lost in the suburbs. It’s not surprising Jensen wants to win over metro voters. Jensen believes a win in Greater Minnesota could make a real difference.
Jensen stated in an interview that if Greater Minnesota can be captured not at 60-40 but at 70-30 the world will change.
Walz received 44.6 percent of the vote in 2018, outside the seven-county metropolitan area. This compares to 39.5 percent support for Joe Biden 2020 and Hillary Clinton’s 35 percent in Greater Minnesota in 2016.
These numbers show Jensen’s challenge and opportunity. Challenge because Clinton and Biden won the state. Opportunity because Jensen has the potential to improve on Johnson’s 2018 performance. According to data from Secretary of State, the seven-county Twin Cities metro has approximately 405,000 more registered voters that Greater Minnesota.
Jensen would be able to beat Donald Trump in Greater Minnesota if the metro voters behave in a similar fashion to previous elections. How has Jensen managed to gain a huge advantage in Greater Minnesota?
Jensen’s plan to achieve rural success
Many times, Republicans emphasize their rural roots at rallies and events.
Jensen resides in Chaska in Carver County’s southwest suburb. He was born in Sleepy Eye, a small Minnesota town.
Jensen spoke to a crowd of about 150 people last week at Fergus Falls VFW. We had values and knew who we were. And we realized that sometimes it takes a village to raise children .”
The former state senator, who was elected in August, told reporters that he used to walk the fields looking for rocks, bale hay, and milk cows. He also mentioned how he went through college at Del Monte in Sleepy Eye, which he joked was a great promotion. Jensen stated, “I know what ag looks and feels like.”
Jensen’s Greater Minnesota prosperity program that he presented at Farmfest includes a promise of faster permits, helping to end what Republicans claim is an overbearing government which has burdened agriculture.
Jensen also promised to expand rural roads and a tax credit for new farmers, encourage and fund value-added crops that provide economic and environmental benefits, boost ethanol, support more broadband infrastructure, and pay for the prevention of animal diseases. Jensen pledged to change Minnesota’s estate tax to make it easier for people to pass down their farms and equipment.
He said that he would be appointing more rural Minnesotans to cabinet posts or other high-level positions. Jensen claimed that only a handful of people outside the Twin Cities metro are eligible for top-ranking state government jobs under Walz.
Rural lawmakers such as Sen. Torrey, R-Alexandria have embraced the Jensen proposal. They believe that Jensen’s plans to spend more on broadband infrastructure, and the candidate’s tax policies, would be most beneficial for rural Minnesotans.
However, Westrom said that speeding up permits was crucial. He argued that Minnesota under Jensen will not have another repeat of Trushrimp’s move of its plant to South Dakota from Luverne.
Jensen stated at the Farmfest debate, “Let farmers grow, let miners mine and teachers teach, and let the government do the rest.”
Plans that go beyond rural policy planning
Jensen mentioned some aspects of the rural plan almost two months after Farmfest at his Fergus Falls rally. He did not spend much time on the common GOP themes of increased violence in the metro and Greater Minnesota, the government’s response to the riots following the murder of George Floyd, Minneapolis, or the rising cost of gas, groceries, and heating fuel.
Jensen loved Walz’s 2017 comment that described rural Minnesota as “mostly rock and cows”, Jensen spoke at the Fergus Falls rally, “I’m proud of being a rock, cow, or whatever else you want to call it.” Walz claims the comment was made out of context, and that he was asking Democrats to pay more attention to rural areas. )
Jensen often returned to COVID-19, the issue that inspired his campaign. He stated that he is passionate about “health freedom” and referred to his opposition to vaccine mandates.
Jensen was interviewed by Fox News and other conservative media outlets about his questioning of death rates at the beginning of the pandemic. He has advocated unproven COVID-19 therapies, and he has opted not to get vaccinated since he has previously been infected with the disease. Jensen claims that the vast majority of his patients who have underlying medical conditions were vaccinated. Jensen claims that his spreading of false information about pandemics prompted an investigation into his medical license. However, Jensen maintains that he has not been disciplined by the Board of Medical Practice. Jensen also argued that Walz’s restrictions of businesses were often arbitrary and nonsensical, which was detrimental to the economy.
span style=”font weight: 400 There’s a cultural battle being waged on this political landscape and we have to stop it,” Jensen stated in Fergus Falls before referring to COVID-19 regulations. “We lost many businesses. It was dark. You can still remember it.
Walz’s adoption of stricter vehicle emission standards to match California regulations was also criticised by the Republican nominee. He said that the “broken” education system indoctrinates children and is more focused “on race” and “whether or not you’re oppressed” rather than teaching basic subjects such as math and reading. He demanded more homeschooling, charter schools, and private schools. He also called on teachers in K-12 public schools to be honored because they are unhappy with the status quo.
Jensen was asked by an audience member what his plans were to ensure that the election is valid. He said that he would support voter identification laws, but that in the short-term his campaign will have more GOP election judges than he did in 2020. He stated that the campaign would also have lawyers to assist “if something is wrong .”
Jensen stated that he was monitoring areas where he thinks there might be a tendency to indulge in some shenanigans. “We are going to stop that, nip in the bud .”
Walz has, for his part defended his record. Walz maintains that his COVID-19 response was effective in balancing the economy and public health — an assertion that some analyses back up but some don’t — in the face of a rapidly changing pandemic. Jensen’s debunked views about vaccines and unproven COVID-19 treatment are criticized by he.
Many of Jensen’s proposals for Greater Minnesota are also things Walz supports.
Walz was responsible for the approval of $110 million in federal funding this year for broadband infrastructure. In 2021, Walz approved $70 million. Republicans claim they fought to get Democrats to fund that much broadband. Both sums are still large when compared to pre-Walz broadband spending. (Under President Joe Biden, Congress also approved large amounts of money for rural Minnesota to build high-speed Internet infrastructure. )
Lawmakers reached an agreement this year to increase a tax credit for beginning farmers. However, disagreements hampered the $3.8 billion tax billspan styling=”font-weight 400 ;”>. The legislation also included other tax breaks that would benefit farmers, as well as schools located in ag-heavy regions. Jensen had asked legislators to abandon their larger spending and tax cuts agreements. However, he stated that he supports the tax bill.
Walz is a strong supporter of cover crops. These cover crops are designed to reduce the amount of pollution that farmers experience and also bring in more money. He has also supported the biofuels sector in general, chairing the 22-state Governors’ Biofuels Coalition.
Jensen’s proposal to phase out Minnesota’s income taxes over eight years is being criticized by the governor. He said that the loss of state revenue would cause lawmakers to cut money from local governments and public schools, and force cities to increase property taxes to make up the difference. Walz claimed that big cities such as Minneapolis could handle this shift better, while Greater Minnesota residents would be more responsible.
Jensen stated that eliminating the income tax is possible in ways that aren’t draconian. He stated to supporters in Fergus Falls, that he could use $12.1 billion surplus of the state over the next three year to offset some initial cuts to government spending. Jensen said in May that he would prefer less money for public school.
Walz is in favor of more funding for schools. He also argued at Farmfest that he supports providing “necessities,” such as child care, broadband, and other amenities to allow people to choose whether they want to live in rural or urban areas. One success for Greater Minnesota was the increase in Local Government Aid.
Walz stated that we don’t complain and that it’s not a big government thing. It’s all about “how do you solve this problem?” .”
Enbridge constructed the controversial Line 3 oil pipe, which was supported by many people in Greater Minnesota. The governor’s administration also approved permits for PolyMet to build a copper-nickel mine. These and other decisions have earned Walz support from trades unions, which sometimes support Republicans like the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 49.
Walz’s campaign highlighted many other achievements, including the 2019 expansion of a tax credit to rural areas with a lot of farmland by the Legislature
A law that would increase the fees charged to drug companies in order to help pay for opioid crisis response efforts.
Walz resentfully rejected the notion that he doesn’t connect with Greater Minnesota. He tried to remind the audience that his credentials in rural policy were meaningful during the debate. He said, “This is my 17th Farmfest.”
Has Walz lost Greater Minnesota
Walz was seen in the 2018 Democratic primaries as a moderate. She outperformed Rep. Erin Murphy, Attorney General Lori Swanson and other candidates in Greater Minnesota and the suburbs and won the DFL nomination. However, it is a different story to be able perform against Jensen.
Polling averages show that Walz is ahead overall for the governor’s race in 2022. Jensen is ahead in Greater Minnesota however, not at the margins Jensen might need.
In a MinnPost/Change Research poll, Greater Minnesota residents favored Jensen by a 48-35 margin in June. In September, a poll by MPR News, Kare 11 and the Star Tribune found that Jensen had roughly 50% support in northern and southern Minnesota, while Walz received only 37%.
Walz is well-respected among some mayors in Greater Minnesota heading into the 2022 elections.
Ben Schiererer is Fergus Falls’ mayor. He stated that the governor fulfilled his promise to increase Local Government Aid, and provide more funding for public schools. The Legislature passed a $1.9 billion bonding bill in 2020. This money was used to finance construction projects throughout the state. These included work on Fergus Falls’ riverfront development and a veterans home. Schiererer said Walz’s campaign message of “One Minnesota” is not limited to winning in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Schiererer stated that local government aid “allows communities throughout the state to provide services, including the police and fire suppression, and allows cities to provide these core services that people want while still maintaining property tax rates that are attractive for families and businesses to reside in Greater Minnesota.”
Walz was also endorsed by Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian who is running as a Democrat for the state House, Mankato Mayor Najwa Masad, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, and leaders from seven of Minnesota’s 11 federally recognized Tribes.
However, he has failed to win over others. Tom Kuntz, Owatonna mayor, is one of them. Kuntz, Owatonna’s mayor since 18 years, has seen the entire career of Walz as governor and in Congress.
They became close friends while Walz was in Congress. Kuntz was Walz’s guest at the 2014 State of the Union address. Kuntz, a Republican, voted for Jeff Johnson 2018 and plans on voting for Jensen partly because of GOP opposition against abortion.
He said Walz has done a “fairly great job of listening” to the needs of southern Minnesota. The now-collapsed budget agreement between Walz and legislative leaders would have been a benefit to Owatonna. Kuntz stated that the governor tried to protect farmers too. He said that Walz tried to “find, a bit more the middle road” politically.
Kuntz stated that Walz can sometimes miss the mark, is influenced by DFL leadership and dragged leftwards by party politics and is less able “neutral” than he was in Congress. He urged Walz to exert greater pressure on both the Republican-led Senate, and the DFL-controlled House in order to reach a budget agreement that could be passed in a special session. This would allow for funding things such as a wastewater treatment facility in Owatonna.
Although issues such as Local Government Aid and a Bonding Bill may seem more important to mayors than most voters in the United States, Kuntz stated that Owatonna residents often criticize Walz’s decision to close down businesses during the pandemic. Jensen is stepping in.
MinnPost: Jensen stated that there is a difference between what Greater Minnesota wants and expects from government. “I believe we want government to get out of our way. When they interface with us, we don’t want them to be punitive, but we want them to be consultative span>
Tim Nanson, a candidate for school board and treasurer for 7th Congressional District GOP said that before Jensen spoke in Fergus Falls at Jensen’s event, Tim Nanson, a treasurer for the 7th Congressional District GOP, stated that in areas like his, a primary strategy for Republicans would have been to turn out more of their base by getting Jensen’s message out.
He stated that the emphasis should be placed on “things that really matter to people”, such as rising prices and rising crime, and the belief judges are too soft on offenders. He also suggested that school boards and school boards could push a “political agenda” and fire up the base.
Kathleen Sieg, a Fergus Falls-based retired nurse, stated that she voted in Jensen for the GOP primary. She also said she had been following him since seeing him on TV in Minneapolis and Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show. Tucker Carlson was discussing how doctors were forced to incorrectly list COVID-19 among the causes of death. This led to an increase in death tolls. (Health officials claim that death tolls are likely to be higher than reported. )
Sieg claimed Jensen made an impression by attending a rally to support a local surgeon. Forum News Service reported that he was fired in 2021 after he publicly opposed a school mask mandate.
Sieg stated that Sieg was outraged at the firing of him from our big hospital. “The town was furious that the big hospital fired him .”