MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The 2018 race for Minnesota Governor has a new Democratic candidate.
Congressman Tim Walz, who has represented southeastern Minnesota since 2006 announced he is running Monday morning.
Walz joins St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, State Representative Erin Murphy and State Auditor Rebecca Otto, who are already running for the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, outsider Christopher Chamberlin is the only announced candidate.
Congressman Tim Walz is known statewide, and after campaigning for Democratic candidates this fall around the country, he is well positioned to raise money. He also has the potential to corral votes where Democrats have struggled in recent years.
The former Army sergeant and high school football coach, accompanied by his wife and daughter, signed paperwork in St. Paul that will allow him to start raising money.
University of Minnesota professor Larry Jacobs says Walz’s candidacy is a game changer.
“Tim Walz blows up the DFL field and immediately emerges as a frontrunner,” he said. “The unique strength of the Walz campaign is that he is going to be able to do very well and be quite competitive in greater Minnesota, which has become a tremendous weakness for the DFL.”
Walz says as Governor he would end the political division and rivalry between rural Minnesota and the Metro.
“Investments in infrastructure in St. Paul benefits Mankato, investments in infrastructure to Highway 14 in Claremont benefit Duluth,” he said.
Walz is entering the race after a near loss for reelection in November. He won by less than 3,000 votes, and Donald Trump easily carried his district. Walz says that was not a factor in his decision to run for Governor.
“I am proud that about 40,000 people voted for President Trump and me,” he said.
With the DFL race already featuring strong candidates, there are more prominent names who could jump in — notably Attorney General Lori Swanson and Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan.
“This is going to be a battle royale for the DFL nomination,” Jacobs said.
On the Republican side, candidates who are considering running include Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and a number of high profile members of the Minnesota legislature.