ST PAUL, Minn. — Editor's note: The attached video originally aired on July 1, 2021.
Gov. Tim Walz announced on Tuesday morning he is running for reelection in the 2022 Minnesota gubernatorial race.
Walz said he'll run again with Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. Candidates for governor have until the primaries to select their running mate.
“It has been an honor to serve as your governor. During the unprecedented challenges of the last two years, I’ve seen Minnesotans from all walks of life come together in order to fight the virus, save lives and get our state on the path to recovery," said Gov. Walz in a video announcement. "We’re not done yet, but Peggy and I are excited to continue that fight with you."
Lt. Gov Flanagan said, "We are running for re-election to continue to make Minnesota a great place to live for everyone; Black, white, brown, and Indigenous, to strive to be a more equitable state, and to give families like the one I grew up in a fighting chance. We are just getting started.”
Currently the only Democrat running for office, Walz joins the race against Republicans Sen. Michelle Benson, Sen. Paul Gazelka, Scott Jensen, Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy, Neil Shah and Mike Marti.
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If a Republican can knock off the incumbent and win the governor's race, it would be the first time the GOP claimed a victory there since Tim Pawlenty won his second term in 2006.
None of the Republican candidates have announced who they'll run with as a candidate for lieutenant governor. Gazelka, the former State Senate Majority Leader, indicated during his campaign launch that he would target Walz's response to the COVID pandemic and reaction to the unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd in trying to sway voters.
In a statement posted on Twitter several hours after Walz's announcement, Gazelka accused the governor of pursuing "policies disastrous for our state."
"I look forward to earning the Republican endorsement for governor so I can bring an end to Tim Walz's bad governorship, just as I defeated his worst ideas in the legislative arena," he wrote.
State Senator Michelle Benson, who is also reaching for the governor's mansion, sounded a similar tone in a released statement. “In my travels across the state, I continuously hear from Minnesotans that feel unheard and ignored by their Governor," Benson said. "I hear from families who no longer feel safe in their communities and don’t believe the Governor is doing anything to help. I hear from law enforcement who feel the Governor doesn’t have their back and from countless parents who worry about their children’s education under his leadership."
Walz has gone on record many times saying he expects opponents to take the offensive on crime and COVID. "You know these people are saying, 'You are just trying to have us wear the masks' or whatever," Walz told KARE 11's Jana Shortal in December of 2020, railing against what he called the politicization of COVID. "I said, 'I am. I want you to wear the masks so that you live.' And that's the day I said, 'So that you can live to the next election and vote against me.' Because that is not my priority. My priority is stopping the spread of this (COVID)."
The governor acknowledged the possibility that his response to the pandemic could make him a one-term governor. "If that's the choice of Minnesotans as I have always said, I respect their right to do that," Walz said. "I have to do the things that need to be done, not the easy things."
Walz won the 2018 general election for governor with 53.8% of the vote. Republican Jeff Johnson garnered 42.4% of the votes in that race.
A recent KARE 11/MPR News/Star Tribune/FRONTLINE Minnesota poll showed that Minnesota voters gave Governor Tim Walz a 49% approval rating in Sept. 2021, while 44% said they don't approve of his performance as governor.
The filing deadline for candidates is May 31, 2022 and the primary is scheduled for Aug. 9, 2022.
The 2022 gubernatorial election will be held on Nov. 8.