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Just weeks after departing as a mid-morning talk show host at WCCO Radio in the Twin Cities, Cory Hepola is entering Minnesota's gubernatorial race as a third-party candidate. 

Hepola, the Perham native who previously was an anchor and reporter at KARE 11, announced his candidacy through a press release and 2-minute video featuring him glowing about his home state. He describes himself in the video as "someone who listens first and is constantly curious," while suggesting that "everybody can be somebody" in Minnesota. 

He seems to be attempting to set himself apart from Republicans and Democrats by saying "we're not red, nor blue, we're purple," noting that "we compromise here" and that the states needs a leader "who represents all of us, will unite us." This has echoes of the "One Minnesota" message that now governor Tim Walz used in his successful 2018 campaign.

Hepola is running as an independent under the Forward Party of Minnesota, a spinoff of the Forward Party political action committee founded by Andrew Yang, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 and also ran to be Mayor of New York City in 2021.

Hepola has yet to announce where he stands on specific policy, but his declaration Tuesday said he's going to offer "bold, innovative and thoughtful policy solutions around education, public health and economic opportunity."

He'll have a chance to expand on his ideology when he holds a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday from the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul.

On his campaign website, Hepola is described as having a "nationally-renowned" media career while stating that "no one knows Minnesota like Cory Hepola."

Gov. Walz is running for re-election for the DFL, while there are numerous candidates fighting it out to win the Republican nomination.

Viewers question bridge footage in launch video

Hepola is already facing scrutiny for including a questionable image of a bridge in his introductory video. As Hepola describes Minnesota's "towering trees" and "flowing fields," the video shows an image of a bridge running through a forest, and it turns out the bridge is nowhere to be found in Minnesota. 

The Minnesota Department of Transportation confirmed to WCCO's Caroline Cummings that the bridge depicted in the video is not from Minnesota. And at least one person responding to Hepola's video says the bridge is the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia. 

He's not the first Minnesota gubernatorial candidate to make invite scrutiny by using non-Minnesota footage in campaign materials. In December, Republican candidate Dr. Scott Jensen released a video that claimed depicted scenes in Minnesota, but used multiple stock images including farmland from Ukraine, a hospital from Britain, and the picture of a woman and child from Thailand.

Hepola joined WCCO Radio in January 2019 after spending the previous four years at KARE 11, where he co-anchored KARE 11 Sunrise before moving to a weekend anchor role. Before that, he was a sports anchor at a TV station in Houston, Texas. 

His last show at WCCO Radio was Feb. 8, the same day he informed MPR News that he was contemplating a run for governor. The next day, he wasn't hosting the Hey it's Cory Hepola show and he was also absent the rest of that week. He announced that following Monday (Valentine's Day) that he was no longer employed by the historic Twin Cities news talk station. 

Hepola is married and has three children with Brooklyn Park Communications Manager Camille Hepola, who also previously worked on-air at KARE 11. 

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