The race between the major party candidates for Minnesota Governor is tightening up heading into the Tuesday, Nov. 4 Election Day as Republican challenger Jeff Johnson and current Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) are closer than ever in the polls.
Here is a look at the two men looking to lead Minnesota over the next four years:
Hennepin County Commissioner and Republican National Committeeman Jeff Johnson is a former three-term state legislator from the Detroit Lakes area who now serves as a Hennepin County Commissioner.
“Minnesota is the greatest place to live in America,” Johnson said. “But under the people in charge of our state government right now, we are heading in the wrong direction. If we do not correct our course—soon—I am afraid that the greatness of Minnesota is in serious jeopardy. I am running for governor because I want to leave our state an even better place to live for our kids—and their kids—than our parents left for all of us.”
ON JOBS: “We will make Minnesota the best place to start or expand a business in the Upper Midwest. Whether that means reducing the burden of regulations, setting competitive tax levels, discouraging lawsuit abuse or ending corporate welfare that picks winners and losers, Minnesota needs to be a place where small businesspeople and entrepreneurs actually choose to do business—not just because of our quality of life—but because it actually makes economic sense for them to be here.”
ON EDUCATION: “It’s time for someone to finally have the guts to tackle the shameful achievement gap in this state between white students and students of color. We have a proud history in Minnesota of providing a great education to most of our kids, but we should be providing that to all of our kids. Minnesota has the worst achievement gap in America and has for decades. Enough handwringing about it; we have to take whatever actions necessary to give all parents the option of sending their kids to a great school. If I need to be a bull in the education establishment’s china shop to get that done, then so be it. Enough talk.”
ON MAKING GOVERNMENT WORK: “Minnesotans are very generous people and most of us are absolutely willing to pay taxes to help the less fortunate among us get on their feet. The problem is, a lot of the programs we fund do not produce that result. On my first day as governor, I will start the process of a line-by-line, top-to-bottom audit of every single program funded by Minnesota taxpayers—starting with our human services programs. The ones that can show they change people’s lives for the better, we will celebrate and bolster. The ones that cannot, we will end once and for all.”
Johnson was born and raised in Detroit Lakes and attended college up the road in Moorhead at Concordia. he received his law degree from Georgetown University – Washington, D.C. He worked for Cargill for several years in employment and labor law before leaving to form Midwest Employment Resource in 2001. He was elected to the Minnesota House in 2000 where he served three terms. He moved to the Twin Cities, eventually becoming a Hennepin County Commissioner in 2008. He also serves as a representative on the Republican National Committee.
Gov. Mark Dayton
Mark Dayton was born in Minneapolis and raised in a house in Long Lake, where his father still lives today. He has two grown sons, Eric and Andrew; and he became a grandfather in March 2013, when Eric and his wife, Cory, welcomed their first child, Hugo. Dayton lives in Saint Paul with his two German shepherds Wanamingo (Mingo) and Itasca.
Dayton attended Long Lake Elementary School and Blake School in Hopkins, where he was president of the student council and an All-State hockey goalie. He graduated, cum laude, from Yale University, where he also played Division I hockey.
After college, Dayton taught 9th grade general science in a New York City public school; then worked at a social service agency in Boston.
For most of the past 37 years, Dayton has worked in politics. Under Governor Rudy Perpich, he served twice as Commissioner of Economic Development. He was elected Minnesota State Auditor in 1990 and United States Senator in 2000.
In all of these jobs, Dayton said, he worked to improve the lives of Minnesotans. He helped bring businesses and new jobs to our state, fought for better funding for Minnesota schools, worked to improve the quality of government services, and provided support for men and women in our Armed Forces.
As Minnesota’s 40th Governor, Dayton worked to increase K-12 education funding every year. When he took office, the state government was facing a projected $6 billion budget deficit for the next biennium. Now the state has a projected $1 billion surplus for the rest of this biennium and a $2.2 billion surplus forecasted for the next one.
Dayton also points out he’s worked hard to close the budget deficit with permanent cuts in state spending of $2 billion. Yet he still championed the investments needed to help rebuild our state’s middle class: high-quality education, good-paying jobs, and better highways and public transit. He has reformed state government and made it more efficient and cost-effective. And his administration has helped 130,000 Minnesotans gain access to quality, affordable health coverage, while saving taxpayers over $1 billion in health care costs.
According to Dayton, the balanced fiscal approach is working for Minnesota, and it has Minnesota working again. There are 122,000 more people employed in our state today, than when Mark became governor three years ago. Minnesota’s economic recovery leads the nation, with the 4th best job growth and the 5th largest increase in economic output among the 50 states last year.
Minority Party Candidates
Also running in this year’s gubernatorial field are members from three “minority” parties:
Independence: Hannah Nicollet and Tim Gieseke
Libertarian: Chris Holbrook and Chris Dock
Grass Roots (Legalize Cannabis): Chris Wright and David Daniels