The Minnesota incumbent executive Tim Walz became the most criticized governor during the last four years, as the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement nourished under his nose after the demise of George Floyd.
However, this was not the only distinguished moment of his tenure. The public health sector, alongside with bleak economic upbringing, also pushed him into troubled water.
Considering the public perception against police after George Floyd’s episode, Republicans are also likely to face voters’ wrath, seeing their conservative views of increasing police funding in states.
As the GOP will select their candidate through endorsement in the Republican convention that is scheduled next year. The purpose of this convention is to ensure that they have all the Republicans on the same page and the factions are not competing at cross purposes.
Democrat Tim Walz: A Lengthy Road Ahead of Him to Win Reelection
A few months ago, Governor Tim Walz expected smooth reelection and was confident to grab the seat once again; however, the tides turned against him, with Minnesota emerging as the seventh-largest COVID-affected state in the US.
Hospitals in Minnesota are near capacity, and the state administration has also failed to bring up the labor force participation rate that decreased with the pandemic.
Supply chain problems and low labor participation are threatening the economic recovery of the state.
The governor gave up most of his powers last spring to settle the budget and now is left with nothing to force mask mandate and social distancing.
The economy and pandemic will be the major target of Republican candidates, and Governor Walz is already struggling to maintain his reputation in these issues for the 2022 race.
Minnesota is one of those states where marijuana legalization is a key issue, as a big chunk of the population believes that it should be legalized and regulated instead of an outright ban.
Walz also holds the same belief but did nothing during his governorship to make this happen, which made him lose credibility in front of voters who put marijuana legalization atop their list.
With increasing homicides and a spike in crime, Minneapolis voters want to vote to cut police funding through the ballot next year.
While the state did little to defund police, these sorts of issues are likely to be decided on an ideological basis, where Republicans prefer funding police heavily compared to Democrats.
Most importantly, the Democratic Party in Minnesota is not united, which is alarming for Democrats.
After the Floyd incident, the progressive wing of the party called for police reforms, which Walz and liberals are not ready to deliver. This makes progressives less enthusiastic for Walz in the way they were in the last election.
Republicans Tough Procedure to Elect a Candidate Brings Joy to Democrats
Republican endorsement is a must-win thing for the Republican candidate in the upcoming elections. In the last thirty years, only one non-endorsed Republican candidate, Arne Carlson, who won the primary over the endorsed candidate, managed to win the general election to become the state governor.
Six Republican candidates have announced running for governor, all of whom have pledged that they will not contest the primary in case they fail to win at least 60 percent votes of the Republicans, out of 2,200 delegates attending the convention in May next year.
However, the historical study shows that not all Republican candidates abide by the promise, and not all of them cease supporting the non-endorsed candidates in the primary or in the general election.
In 2018, Jeff Johnson won the party endorsement while the former governor, Tim Pawlenty, skipped the convention and went directly to the primary.
The Pawlenty-Johnson race proved the importance and strength of party endorsement in the Minnesota Republican culture.
Johnson beat Pawlenty in the primary by more than 28,000 votes, as the GOP donors preferred supporting the endorsed candidates, seeing their track records of outclassing the non-endorsed ones in the actual elections.
Probable Republican candidates for the Minnesota Governor Race in 2022 include:
- State Senator Michelle Benson declared a run in a campaign event in Blaine.
- Paul Gazelka declared after stepping down as Senate Majority Leader.
- Scott Jensen, the former senator.
- Mayor Mike Murphy declared after he was sworn in as Mayor of Lexington.
- Nell Shah, a St. Anthony-based dermatologist, declared in August 2021.
- Mike Marti, the owner of Marti Electric, declared to run in May 2021.
Republican candidates are running on issues that are popular with Republicans but not the state as a whole. The major target of the candidates is the inefficiency of Governor Walz, his handling of COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis, public safety, and election integrity.
However, there is one exception in the platform of the former state senator Dr. Scott Jensen. Jensen is a small-town medical doctor tapping conservative anger over Democratic strategy on mask mandates and social distancing to win the Republican endorsement.
Jensen has been in the news with his spread of fake news on COVID-19 and vaccination. He is using this to draw favor from the Conservative base in Minnesota.
Walz can easily take advantage of the lengthy and complicated process of Republican endorsement to mend his deteriorating reputation.
Introducing a viable COVID-19 strategy and compelling people to follow a mask mandate along with economic recovery could prove to be a breakthrough for the governor.
Nonetheless, if Democrats lose this gubernatorial seat, the GOP will consider it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to introduce their voter suppression agenda in a state where they already control the legislature.