Minnesota Governor Candidates
Group-E Evaluation

Group-E has evaluated the major candidates for MN Governor, comparing the positions listed on their websites against our Group-E Values. The result are listed below or you may download the April 2018 MN Governor Evaluation worksheet here (XLXS). Below is our evaluation from January 2018 of the then current and former announced candidates organized by party affiliation:  Democrat    Republican    Independence 

Candidate:  Tim Walz (D)

  • Group-E Endorsed   

  • https://walzflanagan.org/

  • Experience:  US Congressman, former teacher, football coach, National Guardsman

  • Elected Previously?  Yes

  • Campaign Funds - 4/17/18:   $1,647,178.00

  • Notable Endorsements:  Walter Mondale, Collin Peterson, Rick Nolan, RT Rybak, David Wellstone, many state senators and reps, several unions, other individuals.

  • Commerce:  yes.  Specifically addresses supporting agriculture through various programs while achieving cleaner water, supporting MN businesses keeping working Minnesotans at the forefront, and living wage.

  • Elections:  Unknown

  • Environment:  Yes  Specifically addresses cleaner water by working with agriculture, expand renewables, fight for energy justice.

  • Equality:  Yes  Specifically addresses single payer healthcare, and expanding MNCare until that time.  All need to feel safe regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Equal educational and economic opportunities for all.

  • Freedom of Expression:  Unknown

  • Immigration:  Partial  Specifically states that DACA recipients are our neighbors and fellow Minnesotans.

  • Justice:  Yes  Specifically addresses that minorities experience injustice in the criminal system and they lack representation by people of color in our government.

  • Law Enforcement:  partial  Specifically addresses that minorities experience injustice in the criminal system and racial disparities is a problem that affects all Minnesotans.

  • Second Amendment - Gun Control:  Yes  Specifically addresses banning assault weapons, universal background checks, research gun violence.

  • Services - Education & Infrastructure:  Yes  Specifically addresses fully funded equal education and improved infrastucture. Stable transportation funding, expanding the network, and partnering with business.

  • Services - Tax & Fiscal:  Yes  Specifically addresses programs so all have affordable, quality child care affordable housing, and investing in families, such as sick time laws and paid family leave.

Candidate:  Erin Murphy (D)

  • Group-E Endorsed - DFL endorsed

  • http://murphyformn.com/

  • Experience:   MN House,teacher at St Kate's, former nurse and executive director of MN Nurses Assoc., former legislative director for MN Attorney General

  • Elected Previously?  Yes. 

  • Campaign Funds - 4/17/18:   $498,550.00

  • Notable Endorsements:  MN Nurses Assoc., WomenWinning, Our Revolution Minnesota, DFL Disability Caucus, DFL Latino Caucus, Ilhan Omar, many state senators and reps, other individuals.

  • Commerce:  Yes.  Specifically addresses entrepreneurship, unions, training/skilled workers, living wage, helping the young to get started.

  • Elections:  Yes.  Specifically addresses campaign finance reform, fair political districts, registration.

  • Environment:  Yes.  Specifically addresses renewable energy, electric vehicles, reduce carbon, clean water, agg advancements.

  • Equality:  Yes.  Specifically addresses social & racial justice, equal pay, LGBTQ anti-discrimination, women's issues, healthcare rights & needs, affordable housing.

  • Freedom of Expression:  Partial.  Specifically addresses free press.

  • Immigration:  Yes.  Specifically addresses respect & dignity for immigrants, safe welcoming communities, state and law enforcement not serving as an extension of ICE.

  • Justice:  Yes.  Specifically addresses fair treatment of minorities in the criminal system, a process to release non-violent offenders, transition support out of the criminal system, restoration of voting rights.

  • Law Enforcement:  Partial.  Specifically addresses fair safe communities.

  • Second Amendment - Gun Control:  Yes.  Specifically addresses banning assault weapons, universal background checks, magazine restrictions, lifting the ban on researching gun violence.

  • Services - Education & Infrastructure:  Yes.  Specifically addresses strong education support for all ages, supports infrastructure improvements.

  • Services - Tax & Fiscal:  Partial.  Specifically addresses affordable housing.


Candidate:  Lori Swanson (D)

  • Elected Previously?  Yes, current Attorney General of MN 

  • Withdrew from AG race after losing the DFL endorsement to run for Governor

  • Group-E has not evaluated Lori Swanson for Governor

Candidate:  Rebecca Otto (D)  

  • Group-E Endorsed - not running after the DFL convention

  • https://www.rebeccaotto.com/

  • Experience:   MN State Auditor, former MN House, school board member

  • Elected Previously?  Yes. 

  • Campaign Funds - 4/17/18:   $491,060.00

  • Notable Endorsements:   Our Revolution Minnesota, DFL Environmental Caucus, Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate, 1300 individuals.

  • Commerce:  Yes.  Specifically addresses small business and entrepreneurship, living wage, making economics better for farmers while cleaning our waters.

  • Elections:  Partial.  Specifically addresses campaign finance reform

  • Environment:  Yes.  Specifically addresses clean water, clean energy, and her Minnesota-Powered Plan.

  • Equality:  Yes.  Specifically addresses universal affordable healthcare, affordable housing, equal rights under the law regardless of gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, immigration status, etc.

  • Freedom of Expression:  Partial.  Specifically addresses freedom of religion.

  • Immigration:  Partial.  Specifically addresses equal rights under the law, regardless of immigration status.

  • Justice:  Partial.  Specifically addresses keeping MN families together decriminalizing small drug offenses.

  • Law Enforcement:  Partial.  Specifically addresses equal rights under the law.

  • Second Amendment - Gun Control:  Yes.  Specifically addresses banning assault weapons, universal background checks, magazine restrictions, lifting the ban on researching gun violence.

  • Services - Education & Infrastructure:  Yes.  Specifically addresses eliminating education gaps to expand the economy, has a plan for free college tuition, support infrastructure planning.

  • Services - Tax & Fiscal:  Yes.  Specifically states that government should take the long view, and the need to keep families together.


Candidate:  Tim Pawlenty (R)

  • Elected Previously?  Yes. 

  • Campaign Funds - 4/17/18:   $1,013,065.00

Group-E Minnesota Governor Candidates Summarization


Tim Walz


US Congressman, former teacher, football coach, National Guardsman.


Website headline: Public Service Defines Tim Walz

Noted accomplishments:

  • Grew up on a farm in a small town

  • The highest-ranking enlisted service member ever to serve in Congress

  • An award-winning high-school teacher

  • He created a small business through which he led annual educational trips to China for American high school students. 

  • In addition to his work on the Farm Bill, the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System, Minnesota Highway 14, and the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Preston (MN), Tim introduced the STOCK Act, a bill that sought to limit congressional insider trading.

  • Tim's bill to help reduce the number of veteran suicides passed both the House and Senate unanimously and was signed by President Obama. 

Rebecca Otto

Marine on St. Croix

MN State Auditor, former MN House, school board


Website headline: Take a Stand Against the Politics of Greed
Vision / plans / goals:

  • Her driving philosophy is to see everyone have an equal opportunity at success. 

  • Rebecca's work as Governor will be guided by a core philosophy: end the politics of unfettered greed, which serves the few, and get back to the politics that serves the People and their interests. 

  • As Governor, Rebecca will push for legislation that requires the Legislature to abide by the Open Meeting Law like the rest of government when making important decisions that impact our lives, and legislation that requires all final Omnibus bills to be posted for public review a minimum of 48 hours before being acted on by both legislative bodies.

  • Rebecca supports increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. 

  • Rebecca is working with state and national healthcare experts to develop a real, economically viable plan for Minnesota to achieve universal, affordable, comprehensive, guaranteed, publicly financed healthcare.

  • Rebecca does not support any rollbacks of women's ability to access quality reproductive healthcare services, birth control, STD care and prevention, or medically accurate sexuality education.

  • As Governor Rebecca will work to de-stigmatize mental health issues and make mental health services available and affordable when and where people need them.

  • Rebecca wants to decriminalize small drug offenses and get effective treatment to those who are struggling. 

  • She knows that the current funding system does not equitably fund our schools, and will work to reform it. And as Governor, Rebecca will not allow public funds to be diverted to private schools.

  • Rebecca will support legislation that adequately funds our university system and that reduces college tuition costs.

  • As Governor, Rebecca will work to ensure that farmers have a viable third and fourth crop to help them be resilient. Rebecca is supportive of crops like industrial hemp, which has been grown in Minnesota successfully in the past.

  • Rebecca voted against copper-nickel mining leases until we require strong financial assurances to protect Minnesota taxpayers from clean up costs.

  • Rebecca is committed to ensuring we tackle our infrastructure challenges, and to ensuring broadband access statewide.

  • Rebecca will not support any attempts to roll back collective bargaining in Minnesota.

Noted accomplishments:

  • Rebecca has delivered one historically powerful victory after another, defeating better financed, more experienced opponents of both parties. 

  • She earned a Masters of Education from the U of M and taught public school science for five years, 

  • Rebecca Otto's voting record on the State Executive Council shows her political courage in being willing to take tough stands for what's right rather than what's politically expedient

  • Rebecca launched a big data mapping initiative covering Minnesota's aging infrastructure, the first in the nation, which will help inform her infrastructure initiative as Governor Otto.

  • Rebecca and her husband built their own green home with their own hands 23 years ago, and have been national leaders in tackling the problem and moving on to the great, well-paying jobs of the clean energy economy. 


Erin Murphy

St. Paul

MN House, formerly nurse, nurse union leader, currently teaches at St. Kate’s


Website headline: We need to work together to solve the big challenges ahead of us, instead of chasing short-term fixes that work for our politics but not our future.

Noted accomplishments:

  • I’ve been able to pass bills that make health insurance more affordable for school employees, increasing transparency and competition, while protecting people’s coverage from budget cuts.

  • As a nurse, I saw first-hand the necessity for affordable health care coverage. As the mother of twin girls, I know that we need an education system that prepares every child to be successful and ready to participate in the economy of our future. And as a legislator, I've learned that these things must work together in order to ensure every person has a shot at the good life here in Minnesota.

  • I moved to St. Paul to work at the University of Minnesota Hospital as a part of a transplant team. I experienced things that challenged me, seeing the hardness of disease. I learned to manage a crisis and to work through conflict while keeping a cool head.

  • I eventually went to work for my union, the Minnesota Nurses Association, and worked for them in a variety of capacities, including as Executive Director. As the chief executive, I managed our budget, engaged in difficult negotiations and ultimately made decisions about how to move our organization forward, no matter how difficult.

  • The bills I’ve backed are wide-ranging, from providing dignity to those with stomach ailments to supporting critical infrastructure projects around the state. Throughout my time in the House and especially in the past few years I’ve spent a lot of time working on health care issues and education. I’ve been able to pass bills that make health insurance more affordable for school employees, increasing transparency and competition, while protecting people’s coverage from budget cuts.

  • For four terms I served in caucus leadership roles, including as Majority Leader in 2013-2014. 

Chris Coleman -- Dropped out February, 2018

St. Paul

Mayor of St. Paul, former City Councilor, prosecutor and public defender, financial advisor.


Website headline: I believe in hard work, a commitment to fairness, and a willingness to make bold decisions. That’s how progressive change happens.
Vision / plans / goals:

  • Chris knows that Minnesotans are hard working – that’s why he created thousands of jobs during the great recession to give people the opportunity to get back to work.

  • As a father, Chris remembers the challenge of being a working new parent, so he established a paid parental leave policy in the City of Saint Paul.

  • Chris understands that Minnesota’s economy benefits from new job creation, which is why he championed the largest infrastructure project in state history.

  • The Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota recognized Chris’ commitment to kids with an award for SPROCKETS, a nationally recognized out-of-school time network that Chris launched.

  • Chris appreciates how much communities rely on police officers and firefighters and he has worked tirelessly with cities and towns across Minnesota to get the critical funding needed to support them.


Tina Liebling -- Dropped out March, 2018


MN House, former criminal lawyer, public defender


Website headline: I’m running for governor because I believe that Minnesota can be a beacon of progress for freedom, fairness, and opportunity.  

Vision / plans / goals:

  • Minnesota can lead the nation in moving toward a system where people can choose who provides their health care but don’t have to choose or deal with insurance companies. Some call this “single payer,” but that term describes a method rather than an outcome. In Minnesota, we can start by getting insurance companies out of our public programs. 

  • Tina believes that a fair tax system is “progressive,” meaning those who earn more pay a larger percentage of their income. 

  • We must continue to raise the minimum wage until all full-time work in Minnesota pays a living wage. 

  • I support and defend the right to organize and bargain collectively, because this is one of the best tools we have to raise work standards and give Minnesotans a chance at a better future.

  • Building an excellent, affordable system of day care and support for our youngest kids is one of the most important things Minnesota can do for our future.

  • Fully and appropriately funding our public education system at the state level will help all students succeed. 

  • Making the first two years of post-high school education at a public college or university FREE to Minnesota students would take pressure off struggling families while ensuring our workforce is well trained for the needs of the economy. 

  • In connection with free college, we should establish a “Minnesota Peace Corps” where young people could work in an area of need for one or two years after finishing college. Other students could earn loan forgiveness to reduce educational debt. 

  • We must create a culture and system that allow for fair and just treatment of all Minnesotans. Law enforcement officers have a tough job, but they must always be held to high and clear standards and accountable to the public. 

  • We need a new standard for law enforcement’s use of force—as exists in some other countries. Officers should be expected to control a situation without using deadly force except as a last resort.

  • Government should not infringe on personal decisions that don’t impact the health and safety of others—such as who to love and marry, whether and where to worship, which bathroom to use, and how and when to reproduce.

  • We need to get the big money out of politics so politicians respond to voters, not dollars. we can insist on knowing who is behind the big spending and work on other ways to make sure that the voice of the voter—not the big donor—is the one that’s heard.

  • Before we allow corporations to exploit our natural resources, we must make sure the environment is protected and that sufficient financial guarantees are in place to pay for any cleanup. 

  • I support the current proposal for 50% of our energy to come from renewables by 2030. 

  • Clean water, clean food, and clean air should be our childrens’ birthright. And climate change MUST be contained.

  • It’s time to remove the prohibition on personal use of cannabis and treat addiction as an illness, not a crime.

Noted accomplishments:

  • Tina worked as a public defender for the Office of the Cook County Public Defender. 

  • She started a solo law practice in Rochester concentrating on criminal law 

  • She is the first person from Olmsted County elected to a Minnesota legislative seat from the DFL party. 

  • Many of Tina’s House committee assignments have been in the health and human services area, but she has also served on Taxes, Civil Law, Public Safety, and Ways and Means.


Paul Thissen -- Dropped out Feburary, 2018


MN House, lawyer


Website headline: Minnesota Roots
Vision / plans / goals:

  • Economic reform is a primary component of Thissen’s campaign. One of his first priorities is to ensure livable wages for working parents and eliminate income disparities between genders and ethnic backgrounds. Thissen was a proponent of the 2014 rise to minimum wage in Minnesota,

  • He wants to make sure that our state continues to be a place where our kids have the same opportunity to learn, grow and succeed that we did and where our parents can live their lives with independence and dignity.

Noted accomplishments:

  • As Chair of his law firm’s Pro Bono Committee, Paul redesigned the firm's community efforts, creating partnerships with local non-profits to better serve their clients. As a result, the firm more than doubled the hours of free legal services it provided to low-income individuals and non-profits.

  • In the 1990s, Paul founded an innovative program for volunteer lawyers called Access for Persons with Disabilities to increase the availability of legal representation to persons with disabilities in the Twin Cities. Paul has served on numerous community boards and organizations.

  • Paul was selected by his colleagues in the Minnesota House to serve as Speaker of the House in January 2013. Under his leadership, the 2013-14 sessions were among the most productive in a generation, passing the first significant investment in early childhood education in Minnesota history; all-day, every-day kindergarten for every five-year-old in the state; and a two-year tuition freeze for public college and university students.  The legislature raised the minimum wage and passed the Women's Economic Security Act.  The legislature created the broadband investment program, enacted a first in the nation solar energy standard,  and legalized same-sex marriage. The legislature also passed the Minnesota Dream Act, providing in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants, and expanded health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans.



Tim Pawlenty -- Announced April 5, 2018

Keith Downey - Dropped out


Business consultant, former MN House, chair MN Republicans


Website headline: Make Minnesota Work for Everyone
Vision / plans / goals:

  • I believe in you. And I trust Minnesotans, not bigger government, for our future. We need results, not excuses in state government.

  • I’m running to make Minnesota work for everyone – to grow new and better jobs, fix the schools that are failing, reduce state government, and get back to what works.


Jeff Johnson


Hennepin Co. Commissioner, former MN House, Cargill lawyer, 2014 Dayton opponent


Website headline: The key to a stronger and more prosperous Minnesota is taking power away from government and giving it back to the people.
Vision / plans / goals:

  • Fight for fiscal sanity and responsibility, increased government accountability and requiring that county programs actually produce measurable results.

  • We need to cut taxes and reduce the size and power of government.

  • I will work every day as your governor to make Minnesota’s business climate competitive with those states that surround us. 

  • Our state desperately needs a fundamental change in the size, scope, and philosophy of government. As a start, I will push for term limits, initiate a top-to-bottom audit of the programs Minnesota taxpayers fund and veto any omnibus bill that does not adhere to the single-subject rule.

  • We will start to eliminate some of the many state mandates on our schools and teachers, institute a “Parent Trigger” allowing parents to take action to fix failing schools, and do everything possible to allow real education choice for every parent in Minnesota.

  • MNsure has been a complete disaster and has proven that new approaches are desperately needed.

  • I will work to return the power over health care to patients and citizens, and take advantage of federal waivers allowing Minnesota to abandon the provisions of Obamacare that have limited choice and increased costs. I will also start negotiating with other Midwestern states to increase competition by creating an interstate compact to sell and buy insurance across state lines.

  • The Johnson Administration will put a moratorium on light rail and focus transit money on a first-class bus system.  In the Metro, I’ll base my transportation funding decisions on projects that relieve congestion and provide mobility to the citizens of Minnesota.

  • There is no more important issue than protecting innocent life. I am Pro-Life and believe in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.

  • Under my administration, Minnesota will be a safe place for law-abiding citizens and a terrible place for violent criminals.

  • Self-defense is a fundamental individual right and creating new “gun control” restrictions on law-abiding citizens will only leave guns in the hands of criminals.

  • I will work aggressively to eliminate The Metropolitian Council entirely and start over with a limited regional body (without taxing authority) to coordinate sewer and water service lines and an integrated bus system.

Noted accomplishments:

  • In the House, he fought for conservative principles and was the chief sponsor of several successful bills to limit government power, cut taxes, and combat the methamphetamine epidemic

  • Served as Minnesota 2016 Co-chair for Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential bid.


Jeffrey Ryan Wharton

Redwood Falls


Ole Savior


Perennial candidate

Phillip Parrish


School principal, Teacher, naval reservist


Website headline: Phillip is fighting to restore freedom, security, and prosperity to Minnesota citizens.

Blake Huffman -- DROPPED OUT


Ramsey County Commissioner, banker


Website headline: Getting Things Done
Vision / plans / goals:

  • Huffman’s economic plan provides market driven solutions to address key wage differences for many Minnesotans.

  • He is committed to closing the wage gap that exists in Minnesota so each and every resident can provide a safe, quality way of life for their families.

Noted accomplishments:

  • Blake Huffman has served as Ramsey County Commissioner since 2012 and is the youngest member to ever serve on the board. Prior to that role, he served as a Shoreview city councilman for 16 years.

  • While serving in his elected roles, Huffman worked at several local banks. He retired from his position as a Vice President at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage to focus full time on his community through public service and his nonprofit Journey Home Minnesota, which provides housing for survivors of domestic violence and veterans. 

  • Huffman worked with Land O’ Lakes in his role as Ramsey County Commissioner to keep this fortune 200 company in Arden Hills. Along with keeping their 2,000+ jobs in Arden Hills, the company has agreed to add hundreds more and an $80 million expansion.

  • In addition to creating jobs, Blake has been a consistent leader in minimizing tax and encouraging development while allowing Ramsey County to maintain a lower tax rate than peers in the region.

  • Huffman previously served as Vice President of Strategy at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, where he helped thousands of families achieve home ownership.

  • Huffman continues to work with St. Paul College and other educational institutions to create paths for students to enter the numerous building trades, many of whom have good paying jobs waiting to be filled.


Matt Dean  -- DROPPED OUT


MN House, business owner


Website headline: Putting Values Back to Work. Leading the way to Kill MNSURE
Vision / plans / goals:

  • The state government needs to do fewer things, and needs to do those things better. 

Noted accomplishments:

  • As chair of the powerful Health and Human Services Committee, he’s been an unwavering opponent of Mark Dayton’s disastrous blunder of making Minnesota a first in participant in Obamacare and has dedicated himself to ensuring that Minnesota will be the first to get out.

  • Matt Dean demanded that Governor Mark Dayton immediately cease the fishing restrictions on the Lake Mille Lacs and allow people to fish.


St. Cloud


Website headline: Fighting for the People of Minnesota. Protecting Your Constitutional Rights.
Vision / plans / goals:

  • The child support system needs to be reformed to reflect just that. If you deny or infringe on another parents rights, time, or relationship, you get nothing. I would also like to see more fathers given respect as caregivers, guidance givers, nurtures, educators, and have the courts balance power more evenly. No more should the mothers get only their views heard in court.

  • We need to re-design the LGA program so that it benefits our state, instead of burdens our smaller cities.

  • We have to provide better solutions and stop the polarization on the issue of abortion. This can be done by better healthcare solutions and by defunding Planned Parenthood, allocating those resources to real support and resources for women. 

  • As Governor, I will work to address many issues in the Minnesota judicial system. We will look at everything from unconstitutional sentencing guidelines to unconstitutional criminal charges. Elected officials, judges, and police officers will be held to a higher standard,  as they are supposed to be role models that set the example for people to follow the law! If we in America follow the rule of law, then our elected officials judges and police officers must as well!

  • By working with the trump administration we will successfully bring jobs back to Minnesota.

  • We need to stop regulating bushiness to death, and provide a open environment for them grow. 

  • There is only a few reasons why the second amendment should ever be infringed upon for anyone:1) Mental Health. 2) Violent Crimes. 3) Driving or Operating while under the influence of illicit substances, or alcohol. 4) Sexual Assault/Sex Crimes.5) Illicit Drug Use/Dealing.

  • To better address our budget in Minnesota, I will implement a 2-year government spending freeze. We will reduce taxation on business across the entire state. We will also reduce the tax table on our citizens.  It is time to stop the taxation of retirement.

  • We will work hand in hand with ICE to ensure the Rule of Law is always followed, and offer any assistance ICE, and other agencies may need.

  • We will no longer let Sanctuary Cities exist in our state. We will address the Islamic State in Minnesota (ISIM) appropriately. There is no place in  America, let alone Minnesota, for Sharia Law!

  • We will look into, and correct any issues within MNSURE healthcare. We will work hand-in-hand with the Trump administration for better solutions to healthcare that many people in our state need.

  • We will also work to enact the Minnesota fit program, to encourage and help those who suffer with obesity of all categories get on the road to healthy lifestyles, through offering services and support as well as training to make better lifestyle choices. I will also support a new stop smoking program in the state of Minnesota.

  • I will, as a first order of business, sign an Executive order withdrawing Minnesota from the federal refugee program. 


Jenny Rhoades