Aug 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Republican Scott Jensen to take on Tim Walz for Minnesota governor

jensen walz
Scott Jensen and Gov. Tim Walz Photos: Minneosta Legislature/Minnesota Governor's Office

Scott Jensen won Tuesday's Republican primary for Minnesota governor and is now the challenger to incumbent Democrat Gov. Tim Walz in the November election.

Driving the news: Jensen and Walz both sailed to victory in their respective primary bids, the Associated Press projects.

State of play: Minnesota hasn't elected a Republican to statewide office since 2006. But state polling and national political headwinds point to a potentially competitive race this year.

Bio in brief: Jensen, a physician and former state senator, has garnered national attention — and backlash — for his comments questioning COVID-19 death tolls.

  • He's been a vocal critic of Walz's pandemic response and vaccine mandates, though his campaign has more recently focused on inflation and public safety.
  • During his one term representing a suburban seat in the state Legislature, Jensen had a reputation as a political wild card willing to buck his party leadership on issues such as gun control and conversion therapy.
  • He disavowed his past gun stances during the primary, issuing an apology to GOP activists.

How we got here: Jensen defeated five rivals to secure the Republican endorsement at a bitterly contested party convention in May.

  • The losing candidates all dropped out following the endorsement decision, leaving Jensen with no serious opposition for the primary.
  • Walz, a former congressman and teacher first elected to statewide office in 2018, also faced minimal opposition in his bid to be nominated for a second term.

Of note: Four independent candidates, including two from Minnesota's legal marijuana parties, will also appear on the November ballots.

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