Minnesota primaries 2018: What does each candidate for governor stand for?

Voters take to the polls on Tuesday.
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Leaving it late to make up your mind ahead of Tuesday's gubernatorial primaries? Then check this out.

While we would encourage you all to do as much research as possible about the candidates before casting your ballot.

If you don't have the time to do that, we've got this quick guide to each of the frontrunners and what they stand for.


Erin Murphy

Running mate: State Rep. Erin Maye Quade

Background: The Wisconsin-raised daughter of a factory worker and General Motors car-builder, Murphy is a registered nurse and former executive director of the Minnesota Nurses Association.

She has represented the 64A district in the Minnesota House of Representatives since 2006, and was the House Majority Leader between 2013-15.

Key policy points: She backs a wide range of progressive policies, including being a firm proponent of single-payer healthcare, backs the legalization of recreational marijuana, supports raising the state's minimum wage to $15, and would index a gas tax to inflation to boost the state's transportation spending.

She's also the only one of the three candidates to never get an "A" rating from the NRA (she got an "F" rating), and backs universal background checks, an assault weapon ban and restrictions on magazine capacity, among other gun reforms.

Click here for more policies.

Endorsements: The Minnesota DFL, the Minnesota Nurses Association, Governor Mark Dayton.

Lori Swanson

Running mate: U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan.

Background: Swanson was raised in Wisconsin in a working class family, but was a regular visitor to see her grandparents in Duluth. She majored in journalism in college but eventually became an attorney in private practice.

At the age of 32 she became Minnesota's deputy attorney general, before serving as the Solicitor General for Minnesota and then getting elected as Minnesota's Attorney General in 2006.

Key policy points: She wants to expand healthcare options by allowing everybody to buy into MinnesotaCare, and aims to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. She would address stagnant wages by boosting education/training opportunities, as well as pledging fair funding for K-12 schools and using public-private partnerships to deliver affordable childcare.

She also promises to strengthen Minnesota's campaign finance laws, and backs gun safety reforms including a bump stock ban, enhanced background checks, increased school security and a "red flag" law.

Click here for more policies

Endorsements: Teamsters Local 120, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 70, Teamsters GCC Upper Midwest Local 1-MN, Minnesota Police and Peace Officers.

Tim Walz

Running mate: Rep. Penny Flanagan

Background: A native of Nebraska, Walz enlisted in the Army National Guard at the age of 17, serving for 24 years. He and his wife moved to Mankato in 1996 and he became a teacher at Mankato West High School, where he taught social studies and helped its football team win state.

He was elected to Minnesota's 1st District in 2006 and has won re-election ever since.

Key policy points: Walz is promising to aggressively improve conditions for farmers that allows them to compete at the global level. He also backs the expansion of MinnesotaCare as a short-term option before single-payer, and intends to expand the Working Tax Credit to help middle class and low-income families.

He also backs universal Pre-K education, the $15 minimum wage and despite taking money from the NRA in the past, is now a supporter of gun control measures including an assault weapons ban and universal background checks.

Click here for more policies.

Endorsements:  Minnesota Professional Fire Fighters, Education Minnesota, United Steelworkers District 11, Minnesota State Council of Machinists, Walter Mondale, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Reps. Collin Peterson and Betty McCollum, the Star Tribune.

Republican Party

Jeff Johnson


Running mate: Donna Bergstrom

Background: A native of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, Johnson attended Concordia College in Moorhead, and later attended Georgetown in Washington. 

His former employers include Cargill, who he left to start his own HR training business in 2001. He served as a state representative from 2000-2006, and is finishing up his final term as a Hennepin County Commissioner. He ran as the GOP candidate in the 2014 gubernatorial election.

Key policy points: He is pledging government reforms that includes term limits for state lawmakers, the abolition of the Metropolitan Council and bringing an end to omnibus bills. He's also calling for tax cuts across the board, an end to taxation on seniors' social security, a cap on property taxes and spending cuts on state programs.

He also wants performance-based pay for teachers, allow Minnesotans to buy health insurance from out of state, and an increase in school security in the wake of mass shootings, while pledging not to impose any new gun control laws.

Click here for more policies

Endorsements: The Minnesota Republican Party, Mike Lindell (My Pillow), Michele Bachmann, Rep. Mary Franson.

Tim Pawlenty

Running mate: State Sen. Michelle Fischbach.

Background: He was Minnesota's governor, you know? Pawlenty held the position between 2002 and 2010, after which he launched a run for president in the 2012 election, only to drop out 6 weeks later when he polled third.

Since then he has spent a period of time working as a lobbyist in D.C. He grew up in a working class family in South St. Paul, before attending the University of Minnesota.

Key policy points: Pawlenty is pledging to create good-paying jobs by placing more emphasis on vocational and technical training, while holding schools more accountable for poor performance. He aims to address spiraling healthcare costs by making the amounts charged by insurers more transparent to inform choices.

He also backs scrapping the taxation of social security income, and says he'll improve the verification of eligibility for state benefits.

Click here for more policies.

Endorsements: Minneapolis Police Federation, Minnesota College Republicans, Associated Builders and Contractors, Minnesota Chamber Leadership Fund PAC, Housing first, former House Speakers Steve Sviggum and Kurt Zellers, the Star Tribune.

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