MN GOP Governor Watch: Mills on the Radar?

Expect to see a dozen campaigns for Governor, if not more.

Image Credit: The State of Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesotans have more than a year to make up their minds as to who they will choose to be the next governor of Minnesota, while delegates have almost a year to decide who they will vote for to have their party’s nomination for governor. Candidates are already coming out of the woodwork, with the number of Republican campaigns expected to hit double digits.

Who Has Announced?

Matt Dean

Dean, who announced his intentions to run for governor on April 27, became the first Republican from the House or Senate to announce their bid. A member of the State House, representing White Bear Lake and its surrounding area, Dean has been a champion against MNsure and the Affordable Care Act. At the time of his candidacy, Dean told Alpha News, “We need a governor who will reconnect Minnesotans with the best healthcare in the world. We need leadership to allow our farmers to feed the world and reopen Minnesota’s North to bring back jobs. Conservative leadership begins and ends with results.”

Jeff Johnson  

Johnson, who currently serves as a Hennepin County Commissioner, is hoping that Minnesotans and more importantly, Republicans, will give him a second chance to represent them in November 2018. Winning the party endorsement in 2014, Johnson rallied, but fell short of beating incumbent and current Gov. Mark Dayton by a little more than 100,000 votes (5.6 percent). Johnson learned some important lessons during his 2014 campaign, telling Alpha News, “I was more focused on specific issues. I think people are looking for something a bit broader than specific issues. Something more intellectual and philosophical.”

Christopher William Chamberlin

Chamberlin was the first Republican to announce his candidacy for Governor. A St. Cloud native, Chamberlin has adopted many of the specific issues that seemed to resonate with President Donald Trump supporters in 2016. “I have decided to run for Governor to represent you with an independent voice in our state capitol. I will work with anyone, regardless of party affiliation, to create  jobs, invest in education and balance our budget – with a plan that stands up for the middle class, keeps taxes low and protects Medicare and Social Security,” Chamberlin wrote in a press release announcing his candidacy. Much of Chamberlin’s personal and professional history remains unknown.

Blake Huffman

Serving as a Ramsey County Commissioner since 2012, Huffman, who announced his candidacy on April 19, was credited as the first Republican with experience to throw his hat into the race. Before his time as county commissioner, Huffman was a Shoreview councilman for 16 years and an executive for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. As reported by Alpha News, he focuses on job creation and economic development with his initial announcement noting, “Huffman’s economic plan provides market driven solutions to address key wage differences for many Minnesotans.”

Phillip C. Parrish

Parrish announced in early February his decision to run for Governor. Serving in Afghanistan and Europe as a Naval Intelligence Officer post 9/11, Parrish is no stranger in Minnesota politics. Parrish, then identified as a Constitutionalist, first tried to run for Governor in 2006 without having a major party affiliation according to Owatonna People’s Press, but did not have enough signatures to be on the ballot. He then ran as a Republican in 2014 for U.S. Senate before losing in the endorsement  process to Republican-endorsed candidate Mike McFadden, who lost to Sen. Al Franken. Parrish’s website states he is “fighting to restore freedom, security, and prosperity to Minnesota citizens.”

Keep a Lookout for These Candidates:

Kurt Daudt

Minnesota’s Speaker of the House has been waiting for his moment to run for office for quite some time. It’s no secret within Republican circles that Daudt has had his eye on the Governor’s mansion. Daudt, who was elected in 2010 to represent his northern Minnesota district, was chosen by fellow lawmakers to serve as Speaker of the House in 2014, when Republicans took control of the House. Daudt is currently preparing on behalf of the legislature to sue Gov. Mark Dayton for defunding the legislature, and has been coy about when his announcement for governor would happen. Depending on how quickly the House and Senate can get through their lawsuit, expect an announcement from Daudt later this summer or earlier in the fall.

Dave Osmek

For State Sen. Dave Osmek, it’s may not a question of if, but when. Osmek has made the political rounds to various conventions and events this year. At a convention in CD5, Osmek gave a old-fashion gubernatorial stump speech asking delegates, “what kind of governor do you want?” While he has remained elusive on whether he would run, telling Alpha News he wants to make sure he’s the guy grassroots activist want, he plans to make an official decision later in the year if he can find support. Before his stint in the State Senate, Osmek was a councilman in Mound for more than 11 years and served as a Project Manager for United Healthcare. Osmek this legislative cycle actively spoke against light rail transportation and the Met Council. “I am not going to be the choice of the Party Poobahs and powerbrokers, just like I wasn’t when I ran for endorsement for Senate in 2012,” Osmek told Alpha News regarding his potential candidacy. “I am known well for being an outspoken conservative, who does not wilt when the heat is on, and is more than willing to hold ‘friends’ accountable as much as the opposition.”

Who’s Out?:

Rich Stanek

Stanek, one of the only Republicans to get elected within the Twin Cities, has served in his role as Hennepin County Sheriff since 2007. Before that he served as Minneapolis Police Officer and legislator in the Minnesota House for eight years. Stanek, who was expected to announce a bid for governor this year had been making the rounds to various political events and conventions around the State. However, continued legal troubles his son has faced may have forced him to reconsider his run for governor.

Stewart Mills

Mills is a candidate that was not on anyone’s radar for governor, but after Rep. Rick Nolan announced his decision to continue serving as the congressman for Minnesota’s eighth congressional district, rather than run for governor of Minnesota, Mills may be looking to impress Minnesotans on statewide scale. Mills, the former Vice President of his family company Mills Fleet Farm ran twice against Nolan in 2014 and 2016, losing by less than 4,000 votes, most recently in 2016 by one-half of a percentage point. Chatter within political circles suggested Mills would only try a third run if Nolan bowed out. Blois Olson of Morning Take wrote Monday that chatter has increased regarding a Mills race for Governor. Mills did not return a request for comment before publication. However, Mill’s via his campaign twitter account did announce that the sources were incorrect and that he was still considering a third bid for congress against Nolan.

Preya Samsundar

Preya Samsundar was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities this Spring with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Strategic Communications. Preya has previously worked on several State Campaign Races.