Skip to main content

Democrat Tim Walz and Republican Jeff Johnson lead caucus straw polls for governor race

Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson led the way among Democrat and GOP supporters respectively.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

Tuesday's precinct caucuses have given the first signs of who has support from Minnesota Democrats and Republicans in this year's gubernatorial race.

With Gov. Mark Dayton retiring this year, both major parties have to pick a new candidate to run for his office.

The caucuses on Tuesday evening ended with a straw poll, with party supporters in attendance giving an early indication of who has their support.

For the Democrats, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (CD-01) led the way with three-quarters of precincts reporting, gaining 30.8 percent of the vote ahead of state auditor Rebecca Otto on 20.1 percent.

For the Republicans, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson led the way, ahead of "undecided" and former Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey.

But it doesn't mean they'll get the nomination

Straw polls are optional for caucus-goers and as this article by data company IQS Research points out, are not reliable indicators of the eventual winner.

They are however useful for weeding out the weaker candidates – some of whom drop out based on the results of a straw poll – as well as help stronger candidates fine-tune their campaigns.

History shows us that the winners of caucus straw polls don't always go on to win the nomination.

In 2014, Marty Seifert led the Republican straw polls to challenge Gov. Mark Dayton, while eventual winner – Jeff Johnson again – was in third.

Four years earlier in the 2010 precinct caucus, MPR report Brian Bakst recalls that R.T. Rybak won the straw poll, while eventual nominee Mark Dayton wasn't even on the ballot.

The 2010 example could be repeated for Minnesota Republicans in 2018, given that two arguably strong candidates – former governor Tim Pawlenty and current House Speaker Kurt Daudt – are considering runs for governor.

Next Up


Ryan Poles picking Chicago creates battle of the rebuilds with Vikings

Both of the Vikings' GM finalists land in the same division looking to return to relevancy.

David Ortiz

Twins congratulate David Ortiz on HOF induction, it ends badly

Twins fans haven't forgotten the biggest mistake in franchise history.

Snowmobile tracks Any Arthur Flickr

Who left the burnt snowmobile on a frozen Minnesota lake?

There wasn't much left beyond the frame and a few other large, metal parts.

T Kline Robbinsdale City Council

Charges: Drunk council member fled police on wrong side of Hwy. 100

The complaint alleges he caused a wrong-way crash, then drove around an officer that tried to stop him.


What does the future hold for the Vikings at linebacker?

Anthony Barr is hitting free agency, and Eric Kendricks is approaching age 30

vehicle car

String of vehicle thefts in St. Paul, most left running unattended

The department is urging people not to leave their car running unattended.

kid hospital doctor

Child COVID hospitalizations reach pandemic-high in northern MN

As omicron surges, more kids are ending up in the hospital.

ice fishing close unsplash

'It's disgusting': Anglers dumping sewage on to popular ice fishing lake

A local CO told Bring Me The News it's people in newer, RV-style wheel houses.

Alejandro Rios and Michael Steward

Reward offered for information on 2021 double fatal shooting in St. Paul

It's been a year since Alejandro Rios and Michael Stewart were found dead on the sidewalk.


Tim Walz wins governor's race, beating opponent Jeff Johnson

The Democratic congressman will succeed Gov. Mark Dayton next year.

Beaten in 2014, Jeff Johnson announces another run for governor

Johnson received 44.5 percent of the vote in 2014.

GOP gubernatorial front-runner Jeff Johnson goes after Tim Pawlenty in new video

Jeff Johnson won the caucus straw poll for governor, but the specter of Tim Pawlenty looms.

In first TV ad, Tim Pawlenty goes after Jeff Johnson

His focus is not on Democrats, but his GOP primary opponent.

Minnesota's caucuses are going to be very interesting

A wide open field in the gubernatorial race adds intrigue.

After packed town hall, Rep. Tim Walz says he's mulling a run for governor

He made the comments after a town hall meeting on Thursday.