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Congressman Walz enters Minnesota governor race

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz speaks to the 2016 Farmfest in southwestern Minnesota. On Monday, March 27, 2017, he announced he is running for goveronr. Don Davis / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL—U.S. Rep. Tim Walz says he is running for governor, giving Democrats a candidate from greater Minnesota, where Republicans dominated in 2016.

Walz made his announcement in a Monday morning, March 27, interview with the Post-Bulletin of Rochester.

"I think now more than ever people are just wanting (government) to work," Walz said. "They are not looking for the partisanship. They are not looking for me to have all the answers, but they are certainly looking for me to bring people together to find those solutions that we all know are there."

He went to St. Paul to file official paperwork later in the day. Even before that, a campaign website was up (, although it was not always working.

Walz enters a Democratic field for the 2018 governor's race that already includes St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, state Rep. Erin Murphy of St. Paul and State Auditor Rebecca Otto. Also considering running are state Rep. Tina Liebling of Rochester and U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who serves northeast and east-central Minnesota.

While Walz told the Post-Bulletin that he does not agree with some people's thoughts that rural and Twin Cities residents are at odds with each other, the conventional political wisdom has been that Democrats would benefit from a rural candidate to eat away at votes Republicans won last November to take control of the state Legislature and give Donald Trump the best showing of a Republican presidential candidate in years.

"This idea of dividing us, whether it be by economics, by race or by geography, that's the antithesis of what I'm talking about," Walz said. "The idea of one Minnesota is what has always made the state strong."

On the Republican side, only little-known Christopher William Chamberlin of St. Cloud has announced he is running. But expected to enter into the GOP race are House Speaker Kurt Daudt of Crown and state Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey of suburban Twin Cities. Former GOP governor candidate Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner and Detroit Lakes native, also is thought to be considering running.

Walz, 52, has been in Congress since 2007 and lives in Mankato, where he was a teacher and coach. He is a veteran and has worked on veterans' issues in Congress.

Mark Dayton has said he will not seek a third term.

Minutes after the Walz decision was announced, a Republican-leaning group tried to tie the congressman to the federal health care law pushed by then-President Barack Obama and other liberal causes.

"It's clear Walz would continue the same failed policies of Mark Dayton: more spending, higher taxes and skyrocketing health insurance costs that Minnesotans know all too well," John Rouleau of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition said. "With his 10-year record as a liberal rubber stamp, Walz won't fool anyone when he claims he's a moderate."

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.