Governor's race: Democrats Walz, Swanson file for primary

WCCO's Susie Jones talks from Rochester about DFL drama

June 02, 2018 - 7:24 am
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - State Rep. Erin Murphy has named Rep. Erin Maye Quade as her running mate as she heads toward a primary in her bid for governor.

Also joining the race is attorney general Lori Swanson, who announced her candidacy late Monday while introducing Congressman Rick Nolan as her running mate.

Murphy was endorsed by Democratic activists in Rochester Saturday. She defeated U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who filed for the August 14 primary on Monday.

The deadline to file for the primary is Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Murphy's campaign announced her running mate Sunday. Maye Quade is a first-term Democratic lawmaker who rose to prominence last year after accusing several male legislators of sexual harassment. Both men later resigned. She also staged an overnight sit-in on the House floor to protest lack of action.

Murphy was the sole Democratic candidate in the three-way race for governor not to pick a running mate before the convention weekend.

Republican activists endorsed Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson for a second run at governor Saturday in Duluth.

   Johnson easily beat two rivals to clinch his party's endorsement in Duluth. But former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a late entry in the race seeking a return to politics, skipped the convention altogether and will compete with Johnson in an Aug. 14 primary.

   A Democratic primary could be even more crowded for Murphy. Moments after withdrawing from the endorsement, Walz told supporters he would continue to a primary. He filed his campaign papers on Monday in St. Paul. 

   Together, the parties' endorsements were a rebuke of the more mainstream candidates on each side in favor of those more in-step with fervent party activists. But it's not the final word - both parties have a history of bucking the endorsing conventions.

   Outgoing Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton didn't compete for the party nod in 2010 yet went on to win two terms. Former two-term GOP Gov. Arne Carlson never won his party's endorsement.

   An endorsement can be a help in the drive toward the November election. Murphy and Johnson will get the backing of their respective political parties in expected August primaries, including some much-needed financial help.

   Murphy overcame heavy favorite Walz by piling up critical endorsements from unions such as AFSCME Council 5 and the Service Employees International Union while positioning herself as the more liberal and energizing choice. State Auditor Rebecca Otto was also running but dropped out early.

   Walz had positioned himself as the best candidate to take on Pawlenty in November.

   Once it was likely neither would get the convention's support, Walz and Otto united to try to block anyone getting the endorsement. Walz walked around the convention floor urging delegates to vote for no endorsement, while Otto also instructed her supporters to do the same after dropping out of the voting.

   Johnson's endorsement win is a second chance. He won the party's blessing and the primary in 2014 but eventually lost to Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.

   Johnson now faces a costly primary against Pawlenty, the two-term governor and one-time presidential hopeful who entered the race for his old job in April. Pawlenty raised more than $1 million in his first weeks in the race, and Johnson acknowledged he would be outspent ahead of an Aug. 14 primary.

   Johnson took a jab at Pawlenty's previous work as a lobbyist for banks in Washington after the endorsement.

   "Are we a party of the political class, the wealthiest donors, the lobbyists, or are we a party of grassroots Republicans-the people on the ground who are pounding in the lawn signs and knocking on the doors?" Johnson asked.

   Swanson's withdrawal from the fight for a fourth term as Attorney General was the surprise of the day, handing the endorsement to Matt Pelikan.

  Swanson had been considering a run for the governor's office earlier this year before opting to run for her job again.

  That all changed after the first ballot of convention delegates on June 2 in Rochester. Swanson had a lead but not enough votes to secure the endorsement.