Tim Walz won a second term as governor of Minnesota on Tuesday, defeating Republican Scott Jensen, a family practice physician whose vaccination skepticism garnered national attention.
Walz led Minnesota through the COVID-19 epidemic, which included lockdowns, school closures, and commercial shutdowns. In 2020, he also guided the state through the riots caused by the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His advocacy for abortion rights was the focal point of his campaign.
Jensen blasted Walz for increased crime, especially failing to handle destructive demonstrations after Floyd’s death, and for what he deemed destructive shutdowns during the coronavirus. However, he was vulnerable on the issue of abortion, which remains legal in Minnesota. Jensen initially favored a total ban on abortion, but changed his opinion when the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade and after Democrats aired several advertisements exposing his stance.
“Thriving, Minnesota, the democracy in this state is alive and well. “Well done,” Walz congratulated his shouting fans with a voice raspy from the last leg of his campaign. “Minnesotans made a deliberate decision tonight. To chose a bright future, one in which our best days lie ahead. To select one who rejects negative, dividing politics and chooses for each and every one of us to be the best that we can be.”
Jensen informed his followers that the election results were “disappointing,” but he did not concede immediately. However, he accepted Walz’s triumph early on Wednesday.
He said, “Tim Walz will serve as governor for four more years.” “Republicans, honestly, we did not experience a red wave. It consisted of a blue wave. And we must pause, reassess, and ask, ‘Okay, what can we learn from this?’ What can we improve? How do we move forward?’ ”
The win of Walz extends the Democratic Party’s 12-year hold on the governorship. The last time a Republican gained statewide office in Minnesota was in 2006 when Tim Pawlenty was reelected, governor.
During his first year as governor in 2019, Walz, a former congressman, and high school football coach, found ways to work with Minnesota’s divided legislature, but his relations with the Senate GOP majority deteriorated over his use of emergency powers to impose pandemic restrictions without legislative approval. Walz and House Democrats were unable to reach an agreement with Republican legislators during this year’s session on how to spend the majority of a $9 billion budget surplus.
After the Roe v. Wade ruling was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, Walz made his support for abortion rights a focal point of his campaign.
Jensen initially backed a total ban on abortion but changed his stance after facing criticism in the wake of the Supreme Court’s verdict. He ultimately said that exceptions will be made for rape, incest, and the life or health of the mother. However, he maintained that abortion was not on the ballot, a claim Walz vehemently refuted, and instead attempted to bring voters’ attention to inflation and the increase in violence after Floyd’s death.
In addition, he accused Walz for a $250 million food assistance scam in a program designed to feed kids during the epidemic, claiming that his government missed several opportunities to halt the fraud far earlier.
During his one stint in the Minnesota Senate, Jensen was known as a sometimes moderate maverick from suburban Chaska. In the early days of the epidemic, however, he shifted significantly to the right, not only criticizing the Walz administration’s response but also toying with dubious cures and the anti-vaccine movement.
Jensen also claimed that Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon may be imprisoned for his management of the state’s electoral system, despite their being no proof of election issues.
Chuck Frid, 80 years old and a resident of Mendota Heights, voted early in Dakota County. Frid, a self-described independent, said he supported every Democratic candidate on his ticket and has voted increasingly Democratic in recent years — particularly after the assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6.
“It just truly makes me anxious,” Frid, a former salesman, said. “According to reports, 20 to 30 percent of Republicans continue to embrace the Big Lie… and I feel this is not putting the nation first.”
He also said that he disagreed with Jensen’s anti-abortion stance.
Erik Thorberg, 47, a Republican voter in the suburb of Lakeville, supported Jensen on Monday during early voting. Thorberg, a project manager and Navy veteran, said that a number of his acquaintances and two of his children were forced to cease working when Walz ordered companies to shut during the coronavirus outbreak.
In addition, he said that Walz handled the disturbance after George Floyd’s death “terribly.”
He allowed neighborhoods to burn. He ordered the National Guard to disband at certain periods. He permitted the destruction of statues in the Capitol. I mean, the list is endless,” added Thorberg. I just do not believe their actions were appropriate.