Minnesota primary expected to set Walz, Jensen matchup

Election 2022 Minnesota (Star Tribune 2022)

Election 2022 Minnesota (Star Tribune 2022)

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and Republican challenger Scott Jensen, who have already been playing for months in Minnesota’s gubernatorial race, entered Tuesday’s primary expecting easy victories to formalize the fall race.

Walz sought his second term under the same “One Minnesota” slogan he used four years ago, but in an increasingly polarized environment where Jensen and the GOP sought to turn his handling of the pandemic against him.

Both men faced little-known or perennial candidates. In another top race, voters chose between two Republicans vying to face Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison in a fall race that could upend views on public safety and abortion.

With crime on the rise in Minneapolis, as in other major cities across the United States, Republicans have spent months attacking Walz and Ellison for public safety. They have blamed Walz for a slow mobilization of the National Guard that they say enabled the sometimes violent protests that followed George Floyd’s killing in 2020, including arson that destroyed a police precinct.

Walz has dismissed “second-guessing” of his moves during the pandemic, which included closing schools, restaurants and businesses and limiting large gatherings during the worst periods, and hit back at Jensen, a doctor and former state legislator who rose to prominence in part on his COVID -19 vaccine skepticism.

“You can have wishful thinking and you can hope that you know that COVID wasn’t real and you can take ivermectin or whatever, but that’s not where the facts are,” Walz told Jensen during their first debate just a week before the primary . .

Jensen has denied being anti-science, although one of his vaccine-questioning videos on Facebook drew a warning label from the company and a temporary ban on advertising on the site.

Jensen has also gone after Walz on rising inflation, dismissing record low unemployment as a “false calculation” compared to the higher costs consumers face.

Walz has vowed to protect abortion rights in Minnesota, which almost immediately became an island for legal abortion in the Upper Midwest after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Jensen has played down the prospect of immediate changes to abortion if elected, but in July he softened his call for an abortion ban to allow exceptions for rape and incest and to protect the mother’s physical or mental health.

In the Republican attorney general primary, business attorney Jim Schultz won the party’s endorsement to take on Ellison. But Doug Wardlow, who narrowly lost to Ellison in 2018, launched a primary challenge against his own party’s wishes, rejecting “elites” at the top of the party. Both Schultz and Wardlow attacked Ellison for increasing crime and for his support for abortion rights.

Wardlow is the general counsel of MyPillow and an ally of its founder, Mike Lindell, a leading booster of false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.


Associated Press writer Doug Glass contributed.

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