Over the weekend in the open Governor’s race, Republicans nominated their 2014 gubernatorial standard bearer, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, and Democrats tabbed St. Paul state Representative Erin Murphy. Immediately, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who did not participate in the Republican convention, confirmed that he will challenge Mr. Johnson in an August 14th primary election. Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) followed suit, and will oppose Ms. Murphy in the Democratic primary. The Governor’s race is an open contest because incumbent Mark Dayton (D) is retiring.
In another key race, incumbent Attorney General Lori Swanson (D) was surprisingly denied the party endorsement in her bid for re-election. Instead, the Democratic delegates endorsed attorney Matt Pelikan. In response, AG Swanson decided to enter the gubernatorial primary since Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) is already forcing a vote against Ms. Murphy. The Attorney General, though rebuked by the party activists in her own party, is a popular statewide official and her entry into the Governor’s race drastically changes the Democratic primary. Speculation is also budding that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) will now enter the state Attorney General’s primary. Today is the candidate filing deadline, so the speculation will quickly be resolved.