Political Notebook: Will Walz run for governor in 2018?
Candidates for Minnesota governor in 2018 are already emerging and one of the names being bandied about is 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz. So would the congressman consider a run?
Candidates for Minnesota governor in 2018 already are emerging, and one of the names being bandied about is 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz. So would the congressman consider a run?
I recently got a chance to ask Walz that question. First and foremost, the Mankato Democrat said he is focused on preparing for his sixth term in Congress but added, "the future is always open."
Walz also offered a glimpse at a possible theme for his campaign should he choose to run. He said it is critical that the candidates running for governor are able to bring together rural and urban Minnesotans.
"I hope both the Democratic and the Republican candidate for governor figure out a way to run a campaign based on how they can bring us together — not exploiting the difference between the urban and rural areas," he said.
Walz said he believes it is critical that the next governor address the urban/rural divide to help keep Minnesota's economy strong. Otherwise, he said, the division could end up hurting the state's economic future.
Walz narrowly won re-election, defeating Republican candidate Jim Hagedorn by three-quarters of a percentage point. Walz's victory came despite Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's overwhelming victory in the southern Minnesota district. Trump got 53 percent of the vote compared to Democrat Hillary Clinton's 38 percent.
Other possible candidates for governor
Who else might run for governor in two years? Turns out, lots of people are eyeing the job. On the DFL side, Deputy Minority Leader Erin Murphy, of St. Paul, already has announced she is running. Other Democrats whose names are being mentioned include U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, state Auditor Rebecca Otto, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk.
There also are plenty of Republicans believed to be mulling a run in 2018. Names frequently mentioned include House Majority Leader Kurt Daudt, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, House Health and Human Services Finance Chairman Matt Dean, Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Keith Downey and incoming Senate Deputy Leader Michelle Benson.
Health care forums
Two local forums are planned focused on soaring health insurance premiums in the state's individual insurance market. Former Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch will be in Rushford on Tuesday to talk about the health care crisis and what can be done to fix it. Hatch will speak during a Land Stewardship Project meeting. The meeting runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at City Hall in Rushford Village, 43038 Minnesota Highway 30. The event is free and open to the public. There also will be a navigator from Health Access MN to help people find insurance coverage for 2018. The deadline to enroll via MNsure is Thursday for coverage that begins Jan. 1.
Former Republican Rep. Fran Bradley has organized a health care town hall on Thursday in Rochester. People will have a chance to talk about how high health insurance costs are impacting them. There also will be discussion about problems with the state's health insurance exchange, MNsure. Bradley has invited other Republican lawmakers to attend the event as well. The goal is to come up with a list of short- and long-term fixes. The forum will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Wood Lake Meeting Center, 210 Woodlake Drive SE. It is free and open to the public.