ST. PAUL, Minn. — The race for governor is becoming crowded as former MNGOP chair Keith Downey announced that he has filed the paperwork to run for governor.
Downey mainly focused on his accomplishments during his time as a state representative and as party chair, stating that his experience has prepared him for this new role to the be the outsider in the race.
He announced that he would seek the Republican nomination and that he would abide by the endorsement process.
Though he was not an initial supporter of President Donald Trump in 2016, Downey plans to focus on the issues that Minnesota Trump voters clung to. “You have to bring a business approach with a statewide view,” Downey told Alpha News. “You’re going to resonate with people in greater Minnesota, I think we are going to resonate with people in the inner cities.”
Downey served two terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2009 to 2013. During his time in the legislature he served on the Education Finance, State Government Finance, Taxes, and Ways and Means committees. He was instrumental in passing a law in 2011 that consolidated the state’s information technology administration under the Office of Enterprise Technology.
He ran for the Minnesota Senate in 2012, in an effort to replace retiring Sen. Geoff Michel. He was defeated by DFL endorsed candidate Melisa Franzen in what was at the time the most expensive race in Minnesota history.
After that Downey sought and won the chairmanship of the Republican Party of Minnesota. He served two terms from 2013 to 2017. In his tenure the party took control of both chambers of the legislature: the House in 2014 and the Senate by a one seat margin in 2016. In statewide races the party had a continued record of futility during Downey’s tenure however. Between U.S. Senate races and the state’s executive branch races, the party went zero for five in attempts to unseat DFL incumbents. The party has won only one of the last 16 statewide elections since 2006, which was when Tim Pawlenty was elected to a second term.
Downey has already received a major party endorsement from former U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz. “I’m for Keith Downey,” Boschwitz said. “It’s simply a matter of competence.”
Downey was born in Edina, Minnesota. He attended the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management Information Systems in 1983. He is a Presbyterian, and he and his wife Amy have three children; Hannah, Sarah, and Michael.