Jun 7, 2023 - Politics

Why everyone is talking about Gov. Tim Walz's dizzying drone video

The view from above the rally. Screenshot of video shared by Gov. Tim Walz on Twitter

A campaign-style drone video of Gov. Tim Walz's recent celebratory "budget bill signing" is turning heads – and raising eyebrows.

Driving the news: On Monday, Walz shared the dizzying video, which was filmed at an event on the Capitol steps last month, on his official Twitter account. It racked up more than 2.4 million views in two days.

The intrigue: The high production value — combined with continued national attention on the action-packed session at the DFL-controlled Legislature — has reignited speculation surrounding the political ambitions of Walz, a 59-year-old former member of Congress serving his second term as governor.

  • He's yet to say whether he'll seek re-election in 2026 — or run for another office, such as a U.S. Senate seat if one opens in the future.

Between the lines: While the Walz administration planned the event — and facilitated the first known approval of a drone recording inside the Capitol — the DFL Party paid for the filming and video, which was done by the creators of another viral project featuring the Bryant Lake Bowl.

What they're saying: A Walz spokesperson told Axios that the event and video were meant to recognize the "hundreds of advocates and partners that helped push a nation-leading agenda for working families across the finish line."

  • "The governor was excited to mark the occasion with a celebration that fit the historic nature of the legislative session," she said.

The other side: The production — and involvement of the DFL Party — drew criticism from at least one GOP group, which noted that the governor didn't even sign bills at the rally-style event.

  • Former GOP Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, chair of the Foundation for Minnesota's Future, accused the governor of using the office for "self-aggrandizing, shameless self-promotion" meant "to raise his national political profile."

Of note: The Department of Administration's Capitol event guidelines say drones aren't permitted to fly in or above the complex. The video included shots from both vantage points.

  • A department spokesperson said the access "was permitted with the review and approval" from the commissioner following a request from Walz's staff.
  • He told Axios that he was unaware of anyone in the past requesting drone access inside the building.

What we're watching: While Walz isn't up for re-election in 2024, control of the state House is.

  • In addition to boosting his own profile — and the state's reputation more broadly — touting the session's accomplishments could contribute to efforts to persuade voters to deliver another two years of full DFL control.

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