A little over a year before the next gubernatorial election in Minnesota, incumbents Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have launched a re-election campaign.
In a video released Tuesday, Walz and Flanagan are campaigning on the back of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, police reform, crime reduction, small business, and education.
"Peggy and I asked Minnesotans to come together and make a goal line stand. To fight COVID and protect the economy. The fight's not over but we've got the ball back. We're on offense and we're making progress. But the same people who blocked this are trying to take us backwards," Walz says in the video.
Standing alongside Walz on a football field, Flanagan says Republican views that downplay the seriousness of COVID-19 and discourage vaccines and masking "put politics ahead of science and put lives at risk."
"We won't let that happen," said Walz.
Their campaign promises to make Minnesota a leader in its response to the pandemic, help grow the economy by "investing in workers and small business," improve police training and accountability, "tackling crime and gun violence" and "giving every child a world class education no matter who they are or where they live."
Their campaign slogan: "One Minnesota. Moving Forward."
Among Walz's potential opponents is Sen. Paul Gazelka, the former Senate Majority Leader with whom Walz has butted heads during the pandemic, with the Republican calling Walz "irresponsible" for closing restaurants and businesses in spring of 2020, followed by more capacity restrictions on businesses during the COVID surge of November-December 2020.
More than 8,300 people have died from COVID-19 in Minnesota and with more than 1,000 people currently hospitalized because of the virus, many more deaths are expected.
But Minnesota has fared better than most other states, with Statista noting that Minnesota has the 12th lowest COVID-19 death rate, lower than all of its Midwestern border states.
While Republican criticism is par for the course, Walz has also faced criticism from some Democrats particularly over his administration's efforts to delay, but ultimately not prevent the construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project at a time that the Earth is facing potentially catastrophic consequences from climate change.
Walz has defended his stance, saying: "I’ve made the case and shown policies that we need to move away from fossil fuels but, in the meantime if we’re gonna transport oil, we need to do it as safely as we possibly can with the most modern equipment, and my job was to make sure that that’s what was happening on this."
The onset of the civil unrest in the Twin Cities following the murder of George Floyd also proved an inflection point, with Walz clashing with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey over the decision on when to deploy the National Guard.
Other Republican governor candidates include state senator Michelle Benson, North Oaks dermatologist Dr. Neil Shah, Lexington mayor Mike Murphy, former state senator Dr. Scott Jensen, and businessman Matt Marti.
The 2022 governor election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Candidates for governor and other state offices in 2022 can file their affidavit of candidacy during the filing period, which is May 17-May 31, 2022, according to the Secretary of State's Office.