It's Walz vs. Johnson to be Minnesota's next governor

Former Gov. Pawlenty rejected by GOP primary voters.

Posted: Aug 14, 2018 11:17 PM
Updated: Aug 14, 2018 11:19 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's bid to win his old job back fizzled Tuesday as the two-time governor who had harshly criticized Donald Trump late in the 2016 presidential campaign failed to connect with an electorate that has shifted in the years since he last held office.

Pawlenty, who once called Trump "unhinged and unfit for the presidency," lost to Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the party's endorsed candidate who was nonetheless considered an underdog in the race. Johnson now faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who won a three-way race on the Democratic side.

"I think it is just further indication that the rules have changed, not just in Minnesota, not just in our party," Johnson said. "People are expecting something different from candidates."

Johnson had been viewed as a longshot given Pawlenty's unparalleled name recognition and the money that quickly flowed to his campaign when he announced his campaign in early April. Pawlenty was the last Republican to win statewide in Minnesota with his 2006 victory for a second term.

But voters were unwilling to coronate Pawlenty, who didn't bother challenging Johnson at the state party convention. His loss effectively ends a political career that peaked with two terms as governor and a short-lived 2012 presidential bid.

Pawlenty struggled to live down his October 2016 critique of then-candidate Trump, though he later assured Republican voters that he still voted for the president and supported the bulk of his policies. And the insults weren't one-sided; Johnson once called Trump "a jackass" but positioned himself as a steadfast supporter of the president.

His post-political career as a lobbyist for the nation's largest banks came with the aura of establishment politician trying to force his way back into Minnesota.

Several voters said they liked Pawlenty but believed he'd already had his time. For 21-year-old Republican voter Emma Glynn, Pawlenty's two prior terms were a knock against him.

Glynn said she's concerned about the influx of refugees resettling in Minnesota — which is home to the largest population of Somalis outside of east Africa. While both GOP candidates have made a crackdown on illegal immigration cornerstones of their campaign, Glynn said she felt Johnson was better suited to put an end to refugee resettlement.

"And if he's not, at least he's someone who's new," said Glynn, who works as a server in a restaurant and in a psychiatric group home.

Democrats had expected Pawlenty to win, spending months preparing to face him in the fall. Pawlenty served as a foil in Democratic candidates' advertising, with Walz saying "I won't let Tim Pawlenty take us back" in one TV spot. A heavily liberal outside political group spent millions bashing Pawlenty in the lead-up to the primary, with millions more in advertisements reserved for the fall.

Even for some Republicans, the reminders of Pawlenty's tenure were enough to make them reconsider.

"I have too many teacher friends that are very upset with what happened to schools back then," 65-year-old Linda Speidel said, referencing the deep budget cuts to schools Pawlenty's administration enacted in the midst of the recession.

Walz said Johnson's upset over Pawlenty changes nothing for Democrats as they turn to November.

"The message that was coming out of Jeff Johnson's campaign and Tim Pawlenty's campaign were very similar. They were trying to out-Donald Trump each other," he said.

Walz narrowly defeated state Rep. Erin Murphy to capture his party's nomination. Attorney General Lori Swanson, once considered a top contender, conceded early Tuesday night after late accusations against her — including that she pressured official employees to boost her political ambitions — led to disappointing results.

Walz likely benefited from booming voter turnout, driven by a handful of other competitive Democratic primaries for attorney general and U.S. House races. In Minneapolis, where a crowded Democratic primary to replace Rep. Keith Ellison only added to voter excitement, elections officials had tallied nearly 75,000 ballots by dinnertime, far outstripping a recent high watermark of 51,000 in 2010. A polling place in suburban Eden Prairie had doubled its expected turnout with hours of voting to go.

The state's no-excuse absentee voting law started in 2014 was responsible for at least part of the spike. More than 117,000 early absentee ballots had been cast by Monday morning, crushing previous records for a primary election.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 55947

Reported Deaths: 1654
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin17789819
Ramsey6861261
Dakota3942102
Anoka3327112
Stearns281720
Washington188643
Nobles17456
Olmsted162023
Scott136214
Mower10782
Rice9898
Blue Earth8485
Wright8015
Carver7692
Clay74340
Kandiyohi6701
Sherburne6387
St. Louis42719
Todd4182
Lyon4153
Freeborn3541
Steele3271
Nicollet30713
Benton3043
Watonwan2980
Winona24516
Crow Wing20613
Martin2035
Le Sueur1991
Beltrami1910
Chisago1761
Goodhue1758
Otter Tail1753
Cottonwood1710
Pipestone1439
Becker1421
McLeod1350
Unassigned13540
Douglas1290
Itasca12912
Polk1293
Waseca1280
Pine1260
Carlton1240
Dodge1220
Murray1221
Isanti1080
Chippewa971
Brown832
Meeker832
Morrison831
Faribault820
Sibley782
Wabasha780
Koochiching733
Rock730
Jackson700
Pennington701
Mille Lacs643
Fillmore610
Cass582
Renville585
Lincoln540
Swift521
Grant491
Yellow Medicine490
Roseau450
Houston400
Pope390
Norman340
Redwood300
Aitkin280
Hubbard280
Kanabec281
Marshall280
Wilkin283
Mahnomen231
Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake190
Lake170
Stevens150
Clearwater140
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson40
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 45592

Reported Deaths: 877
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9709202
Woodbury364250
Black Hawk299762
Linn208987
Johnson191815
Dallas178735
Buena Vista178412
Scott159012
Dubuque152729
Marshall138324
Pottawattamie121223
Story111013
Wapello84531
Muscatine82448
Crawford7153
Webster7125
Sioux5932
Cerro Gordo58117
Tama53729
Warren5261
Jasper45424
Plymouth4438
Wright4411
Louisa37814
Dickinson3754
Clinton3123
Washington28710
Hamilton2391
Boone2282
Franklin2134
Bremer1877
Clarke1853
Carroll1811
Emmet1791
Clay1711
Hardin1660
Shelby1591
Marion1520
Allamakee1494
Poweshiek1468
Benton1421
Des Moines1392
Jackson1391
Mahaska13617
Guthrie1265
Floyd1242
Jones1231
Cedar1201
Hancock1162
Butler1132
Pocahontas1131
Henry1123
Buchanan1101
Lyon1000
Madison1002
Cherokee971
Clayton973
Harrison960
Taylor930
Lee923
Delaware901
Monona900
Humboldt891
Iowa881
Winneshiek821
Calhoun812
Mills810
Sac810
Fayette790
Jefferson780
Palo Alto780
Kossuth770
Osceola770
Mitchell760
Page740
Winnebago730
Grundy721
Union701
Monroe667
Worth610
Chickasaw500
Davis491
Howard480
Cass471
Appanoose433
Lucas434
Montgomery433
Greene380
Fremont360
Van Buren311
Keokuk301
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur210
Ringgold211
Adair200
Adams160
Wayne151
Unassigned70
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