MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Five of the top candidates for Minnesota governor squared off for an unusual bi-partisan debate Wednesday — one of the last times they will meet ahead of next Tuesday’s primary election.

Three Democrats and two Republicans took the stage at southern Minnesota’s Farmfest in southern Minnesota, a huge agricultural show outside Redwood Falls.

This governor’s primary has been unusually enthusiastic, loud and edgy. So the final stretch brought the governor candidates to a debate tent.

Only two of the five governor candidates will survive next Tuesday’s primary. With so little time left, they tried to make the most of it.

Democrat Tim Walz gave his final pitch.

“I never prepared my life to run for office, but I believe my life has prepared me well, to bring people together around common goals,” Walz said.

Republican Tim Pawlenty jabbed at Democrats, who he said are increasing costs for farmers.

(credit: CBS)

“They want to jack up spending faster than your paycheck goes up, I don’t,” Pawlenty said. “They want to look the other way on illegal immigration. I think we’re a country based on the rule of law. We want to welcome legal immigration, but we need to crack down on illegal immigration.”

Democrat Lori Swanson said she will focus on economic growth.

“We do best when we grow from the middle out, not the top down,” Swanson said. “Our children should be able to aim higher and dream bigger and do better than their parents. And that we do best when everybody plays by the same rules.”

Republican Jeff Johnson said he is worried about government regulations.

“When I am your governor, state regulators are going to have a choice to make. They are either going to have to start acting like they work for you, or they’re not going to survive the Johnson administration,” Johnson said.

And Democrat Erin Murphy said her administration will embrace urban and rural.

“We love the place we call home, we love Minnesota, and when we remember that and stand together for a progressive vision for the people in Minnesota, we can build it,” Murphy said.

With so many candidates, the farm vote is super critical if there is a close election next Tuesday.

Pat Kessler


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