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Former sheriff, cop Rich Stanek enters governor's race

Stanek cites his 40 years in law enforcement, promising to address Minnesota's rising rates of crime and violence.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Editor's note: The video above aired on Jan. 12, 2022. 

Citing four decades of law enforcement experience and a desire to "uphold the law and protect my neighbors," former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek on Tuesday launched a run for Minnesota governor. 

A self-described "lifelong conservative," Stanek joins a crowded field of Republican hopefuls that already includes former Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, State Senator Michelle Benson, former State Senator Dr. Scott Jensen, and businessmen Kendall Qualls and Neil Shah, among others. Current DFL governor Tim Walz is seeking re-election.

In a campaign video posted on YouTube, Stanek accuses Democrats of waging "all out war" on law enforcement as video of fires and looting from the unrest following the death of George Floyd plays. 

"Today, our streets are flooded with violence, and our neighbors need help more than ever," Stanek narrates under the video. "That means my job is not finished."

Rich Stanek served as a street cop with the Minneapolis Police Department for decades before running for the state legislature, where he served five terms. In 2006 he was elected Hennepin County Sheriff, an office he held for 12 years until being unseated by current incumbent David Hutchinson. 

He currently is a consultant with Public Safety Strategies Group, a firm he co-founded. 

Along with his emphasis on public safety, Stanek promises he will secure the election process, jumpstart jobs and the economy, "preserve the second amendment" and put an end to COVID-related lockdowns and mandates. 

While Stanek carries a high public profile into the race, there are incidents in his past that could prove problematic. In 2004 he was appointed Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner by then-Governor Tim Pawlenty, but resigned under pressure after admitting to using racial slurs during a deposition as part of a police brutality case. 

“Rich Stanek spent his political career mired in inappropriate controversy and disgraced himself by repeatedly using the n-word and defending his use of it," said DFL Chairman Ken Martin in a released statement Tuesday. "His repeated use of racial slurs, his long standing opposition to common-sense gun safety measures, and the multiple police brutality lawsuits against him make him unfit for the office of governor and a downright dangerous option for Minnesotans.”

Stanek was also in the headlines in 2017 after becoming involved in a skirmish at a law enforcement conference in Dallas. He filed a lawsuit against a former FBI agent who allegedly punched him in the face, and in 2019 was awarded $600,000 by a Texas jury. 

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