Weather Forecast


Governor candidate Johnson targets greater Minnesota

1 / 2
Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner and Detroit Lakes native, is running for Minnesota governor is 2018. Submitted photo 2 / 2

ST. PAUL — Voters around greater Minnesota can expect to see a lot of Jeff Johnson.

The 50-year-old Hennepin County commissioner and Detroit Lakes native launched his second Republican bid for governor Wednesday, May 10, saying that the area outside the Twin Cities is critical.

"My focus will be heavily greater Minnesota again," he said, remembering his 2014 campaign. "That is where I spent most of my time and it is where I got the highest percentage of my votes."

He and his wife, Sondi, live in suburban Plymouth now but grew up in northwestern Minnesota and still have family there.

He said that Donald Trump did well in greater Minnesota, better than any Republican presidential candidate had for years, and he expects to be successful there, too.

But so do other candidates. Potential Republican rival House Speaker Kurt Daudt lives on a family farm near Crown.

Several Democratic candidates, and possible ones, can claim rural backgrounds, including U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan and Tim Walz. Both said on Tuesday that rural Minnesota will be a key to the election.

Johnson said Nolan and Walz have not strayed far from Democratic ideals, including the federal health-care law known as Obamacare. That law, he said, has hurt rural residents.

"I’m running to take power away from government and return it back to the people of Minnesota," Johnson said. "As governor I will bring fundamental change to a government that costs too much, has grown far too big and taken far too much money and freedom from everyday Minnesotans."

His priority will be to limit property tax increases. While he said he does not have details figured out, his general plan is to limit the tax increase on any property to 2 percent a year.

"Millions of Minnesotans have watched for years as our government has continued to grow, continued to over-tax us and continued to control how we live, work and raise our children," he wrote on Facebook. "It is time to fight back."

The Hennepin County commissioner, who received 45 percent of the vote to Dayton’s 50 percent last time, hit a populist message announcing Wednesday morning that he will run for governor again in 2018.

Johnson unsuccessfully ran for attorney general in 2006.

He enters a crowded race for Minnesota’s top state job. A year and a half before the election, two elected Republicans (state Rep. Matt Dean of Dellwood and Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman) and five Democrats have declared themselves candidates. Many others say they are thinking about running.

Johnson, who has long been a voice for limited spending and government on the Hennepin County board, is the only Republican in the race so far who has been through a statewide campaign.

“The Republicans who are going to make this decision, know what to expect from me, know how hard I will work, know I won’t wilt under the pressure,” he said.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.