Jensen, Birk make push for votes in Rochester 10 days before Election Day
The GOP candidates for governor and lieutenant governor flew into Rochester International Airport on Saturday as part of a 6-city tour.
ROCHESTER — Hoping to "heal Minnesota," Dr. Scott Jensen arrived in Rochester on Saturday at the end of a six-city barnstorming tour of the state 10 days before voters go to the polls.
Jensen, the GOP candidate for governor, along with his running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Matt Birk, addressed a crowd of about 80 or so people, shook hands with supporters and posed for photos.
At the start of his speech, he talked about the meaning of the Bible verse Esther 4:14.
"Whether we know that verse or not, I think we can all resonate with the words, and the words go something like this," Jensen said. "Have you considered your position you're in for such a time as this?"
Jensen said he hoped his supporters heard those words and felt "pretty darned activated."
"We don't get to stand on the sidelines this time around," Jensen added.
Jensen covered a list of topics, from schools that he said are failing Minnesota students and families despite per-pupil support above the national average, to a lack of support for law enforcement that ranges to funding and or a move away from incarceration and mandated minimum sentences as a tool of the criminal justice system.
"We never even used to keep track of carjackings," Jensen said. "We had 800 carjackings in 2021, and most of them were targeting women."
Jensen called for stiffer penalties for carjacking and rape.
On the economy, Jensen said that while Minnesota's unemployment rate was a low 1.8%, the reason for the low rate was the number of people who had dropped out of the job market.
"I think what's more important is the fact we've had two negative growth GDP quarters in a row, which constitutes a recession," Jensen said. "We've gone from 7 or 8 cents an egg to a quarter an egg in a little more than two years. We've got bread and a gallon of milk somewhere between $3.75 and $5."
Despite wages going up, Jensen said the inflation rate has left Minnesotans with less buying power for their dollars, and the economy has made people lose ground financially.
"This is our time," Jensen said, referring to the election as a battle of wills over the future of the state.
Jensen characterized Walz, his DFL opponent, as a quitter supported by the media, big money and a political machine. As part of his campaign talking points, he said Walz quit on the National Guard, quit on law enforcement and quit on seniors during COVID, "who had to die a lonely death in a nursing home with no one holding their hand."
"Matt Birk and I, we're not going to quit," Jensen said to applause. "Minnesota doesn't deserve quitters."
Jensen said Minnesotans are worse off now than four years ago, but he can "heal Minnesota."
He pointed to Rochester as a community that can help Minnesota lead, highlighting Mayo Clinic as an institution born in and nurtured by Rochester.
Birk, who started with the anecdote of how his wife encouraged him to meet with Jensen during a flight back to Rochester from Florida, said, "Regardless of your political affiliation, you would admit that over the last two years what we've seen is bad government."
Birk said decisions during the last two years were made based on partisan politics rather than what is best for Minnesota.
Jan Throndson, of Rochester, said he plans to vote for Jensen to help "take out country back from people who are trying to destroy our country."
Gov. Walz does not stand strong on crime when allowed the riots and let the precinct drop in Minneapolis," Throndson said.
Throndson said he'd like to see a different Minnesota government, giving Republicans a chance.
"I'd like to see a government for the people that is run by the people, and they respect the people and ask what we want," Throndson said.
Jensen said the polls show a close race, but he believes his campaign has "lightning in a bottle."
"On Nov. 8, the last thing I want to do is look back and say, gee, I left something in the tank," Jensen said. "I'm not going to leave anything in the tank."
The barnstorming tour began early in Duluth before buzzing into airports in Hibbing, Moorhead, St. Cloud and Mankato before ending the tour in Rochester. The candidates were accompanied by their wives, Mary Jensen and Adrianna Birk, and Minnesota GOP Chairman David Hann.