Tags: Minnesota | Jeff Johnson | governor | Midterms | election

GOP's Johnson Still Competitive in Minnesota Governor's Race

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Friday, 10 October 2014 07:31 AM Current | Bio | Archive

With fewer than 30 days to go before Minnesota elects a governor, conservative Republican Jeff Johnson still trails incumbent Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in most polls.

But in an unpredictable state that elected Democratic Sens. Hubert Humphrey and Paul Wellstone as well as moderate-to-conservative Republicans such as former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Sen. Norm Coleman, and even independent Gov. Jesse Ventura, few are writing off the chances of Hennepin County Commissioner Johnson unseating Dayton, a multimillionaire department store heir and former U.S. senator.

According to the latest CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll, Dayton leads Johnson among likely voters statewide by a margin of 48 percent to 41 percent. These figures were almost identical to those in a Rasmussen survey conducted at the same time, with Dayton leading Johnson 49 percent to 41 percent.

"Jeff is about where he needs to be in the last few weeks of the campaign," Minnesota’s Republican National Committeeman Chris Tiedeman told Newsmax last week. "Now the big issues, such as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor [the official name of the Democrat Party in Minnesota] tax increase, spending, and waste are going to really resonate and propel Jeff."

Tiedeman was referring to the $2 billion tax increase enacted by the DFL-controlled legislature and signed by Dayton and MNSure, the health exchange for Obamacare that polls show to be highly unpopular with Gopher State voters. Preferred One, the largest low-cost insurer in Minnesota, recently pulled out of MNSure.

"And the best example of waste is the $77 million luxury state office building for our part-time legislature," he added. "The Democrats spent more on what folks are calling the Taj Mahal than they did on roads and bridges."

Along with overseeing the tax hike and health exchange, Dayton and the Democrats have successfully pushed for all-day kindergarten and increases in the state minimum wage. Dayton also supported unionization of child healthcare providers.

In striking contrast, former state legislator and unsuccessful state attorney general candidate (in '06) Johnson is an unabashed conservative who wants to roll back taxes and craft a fresh system for healthcare. Like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, he is an upbeat-sounding conservative with fresh ideas, such as expanding school choice and prioritizing roads and bridges over mass transit systems.

The major dilemma facing Republicans is whether they will have the money to get Johnson past Dayton in November.

"The Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party and their allied groups have vastly outspent Republicans and their allied groups," John Augustine, chairman of the Legislative Evaluation Assembly of Minnesota, told Newsmax (emphasizing that his views were his own and did not necessarily reflect those of the organization). "Part of that is due to the Republicans still trying to dig out of crushing debts that reached their peak after two statewide recounts" when it took weeks to determine that Dayton had edged out Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer, and the 2008 Senate race between [Republican Norm] Coleman and [Democrat Al] Franken that took months.

"The race for governor between Mark Dayton and Jeff Johnson has suffered from a lack of resources on the Republican conservative side compared to that for the Senate. It’s as if the top contributors on our side decided they only had enough to go after Franken [who faces GOP businessman Mike McFadden] and not Mark Dayton."

Tiedeman feels confident Johnson will emerge triumphant because of the issues and economic climate.

As he put it, "when Minnesota is rated dead last in private sector job growth in the Midwest and 41st in job growth in the country, and when a Fortune 500 company has left us every year Dayton has been governor, that’s a compelling argument for a governor whose chief campaign promise is to make our state a more competitive place."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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With fewer than 30 days to go before Minnesota elects a governor, conservative Republican Jeff Johnson still trails incumbent Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in most polls.
Minnesota, Jeff Johnson, governor, Midterms, election
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2014-31-10
Friday, 10 October 2014 07:31 AM
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