Former Hennepin County candidate alleges Walz snubbed her over Moriarty relationship

Jen Westmoreland placed fourth in a special election primary on Tuesday among a field of six candidates for the District 6 seat on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.

Left: Jen Westmoreland/Jen Westmoreland for Hennepin County Commissioner; Right: Gov. Tim Walz/Office of Gov. Tim Walz

A DFL activist and Hopkins School Board member is alleging that Gov. Tim Walz gave her a politically-calculated cold shoulder last fall while she was running for a vacant seat on the Hennepin County Board — because of her relationship with Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty.

Walz has publicly distanced himself from Moriarty on a handful of occasions over the last year. This week he questioned the Hennepin County Attorney’s hiring of outside counsel for its prosecution of State Trooper Ryan Londregan.

Jen Westmoreland placed fourth in a special election primary on Tuesday among a field of six candidates for the District 6 seat on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. The top two vote earners in that race advanced to a May 14 run-off.

In a post-primary reflection she posted to Facebook on Wednesday, Westmoreland shared the difficulties she said she “experienced running as a progressive queer woman,” even from those in her own political party.

“I share this because I know I’m not alone, and we have so much work to do to create an inclusive democracy,” Westmoreland said in a social media post she made public on Facebook.

She alleged that leading up to a press tour Gov. Walz held at Eisenhower Elementary in Hopkins last October to tout new early education spending approved during the 2023 legislative session, the state’s top elected Democrat requested Westmoreland not attend the event.

At the time Westmoreland was serving as chair for the Hopkins School Board, and she believes she was targeted because of her domestic partnership with Moriarty. A handful of prominent DFLers, including former DFL House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, criticized Westmoreland for running for an elected office that oversees the budget of an office controlled by her significant other.

“A request by Governor Walz that I, as Chair of the Hopkins School Board, not be present at a press conference on education funding that he was giving at a school in the Hopkins School District. (He was in a public disagreement with my partner at the time.) I attended. Imagine — attempting to tell a twice-elected official where she can and cannot be in her own district,” Westmoreland wrote.

A WCCO screenshot showing Westmoreland attending the event last fall at Eisenhower Elementary.

Members of Walz’s communications staff have not yet returned a request for comment.

She also contends she was peppered with “inappropriate comments” about her relationship with Moriarty “during the DFL Senior Caucus endorsement screening.”

“After I answered a reasonable question about how I would handle a potential conflict of interest given my partner’s elected role, a senior caucus member inquired about the nature of my ‘pillow talk with the county attorney.’”

A representative for the DFL Senior Caucus has not yet returned requests for comment.

“This is much bigger than me — similar things happen to queer women and gender expansive people in politics everywhere. Does this happen to straight couples involved in politics? To people with straight and cisgender children? Is this what we want the political discourse to look like?” Westmoreland added.

Westmoreland was the first of eight candidates to announce her campaign for what has become a highly coveted seat on the Hennepin County Board, which oversees a $2.7 billion budget, the largest in the state. The position pays more than $113,000 per year.


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.