Politics Friday

Meet the Candidates: Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen

man in blue shirt and glasses smiles at camera
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dr. Scott Jensen.
Courtesy of Scott Jensen

Updated: 5:30 p.m.

Of all the seats on the November ballot, none will be more hotly contested than governor.

As Gov. Tim Walz seeks another term, more than a half dozen Republicans are competing for the chance to run against him.

The GOP frontrunner so far is Dr. Scott Jensen, a family physician who served one term in the Minnesota Senate representing the Chaska, Minn., area. He won a straw poll of Republicans attending caucuses in February and led fundraising in the early days of the campaign.

Jensen’s criticism of the state and federal response to COVID-19 has been central to his bid for governor. Early in the pandemic Jensen cast doubt on official COVID death counts, opposed vaccine mandates, questioned guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and criticized the restrictions that the Walz administration placed on businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Politics Friday host Mike Mulcahy spoke to Jensen about the pandemic response, public safety, his views on abortion and more. At the end of the show, MPR News reporter Brian Bakst gave a review of what happened this week at the state Legislature.

Below is a transcript of their conversation. It has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Why do you want to be governor?

Rather than say, “I want to be governor,” I think what I'd have to say is “I feel compelled to run.”

I think that the path Minnesota is on is unsustainable, and it's not reflective of the vast majority of Minnesotans in terms of Minnesotans expecting to be trusted, and expecting government to not go outside the guardrail. So, for me, it's really a sense that the words of Esther 4:14 “Have you considered that you're in the position you're in for such a time as this?” And that's really what compelled my wife Mary and I to run.

When you say that government has gone off the guardrails, are you referring specifically to the COVID-19 rules that Gov. Walz put into effect?

I think it's bigger than that. I think our system is broken. Certainly COVID demonstrated a willingness to intrude on civil liberties. Lock people down, lock businesses down arbitrarily, lock nursing home [residents] into their facilities, and in many cause them to die a desperate death of loneliness.

But I think we've seen this before, we've seen increasing amount of gridlock. We've seen people not be able to get things done — special sessions at the legislative level are no longer special, their routine. I think government's broken. I think the political class that is slowly evolved, is broken in a huge way. And I think there are so many people rising up saying “this isn't working, we've got to do something different.” I think that explains a little bit why so many people have gotten off the sidelines and said, “we're going to engage.”

Isn't government divided and things are divisive at the Capitol because the population is divided? People don't agree on these issues. And that's reflected in the representatives they send to the state Capitol.

I think you're right. I think that this phenomenon, though, has literally gone on steroids during COVID. I think a good case in point might be that when I was elected in 2016, alongside of Dr. Matt Klein, we reached out to one another talked about what kinds of initiatives we thought could work in health care. How could we increase transparency at the end of the 2017 session. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka asked me if I would share a health care access and affordability committee and we did that and I insisted that Sen. Klein be on that committee.

We've worked together for three years. And COVID absolutely “fractured” that relationship, if you consider some of the words that Sen. Klein has used to describe me. So I think that our relationship is perhaps a microcosm of what's gone on in a macro way. I think that Matt Klein doesn't call me on the phone and have discussions with me any longer, doesn't invite me out to dinner, he just throws terms out, like unethical or irresponsible and stuff like that. And I think I'm not trying to pick on him. I'm just saying, I think that's where we've gone. I think COVID has been far more disruptive. It's moved people from a position of disagreeing with one another to a position of literally holding someone else in contempt.

There were plenty of special sessions before COVID, though. Gov. Dayton didn't get along very well with the divided Legislature either, did he?

I don't think there's any question. Special sessions are no longer special and it's been going on for a good decade. But what I was saying is that I think COVID basically jacked it up on steroids. And I think that I used the relationships that Dr. Matt Klein and I have as an example, I think that we had a working relationship, even though certainly we had great disagreement, but we continue to work together. And I think COVID has made it increasingly difficult.

Isn’t part of that, though, because of some of the things you were saying during the the COVID outbreak? You went on Fox News early in the pandemic, saying that you thought hospitals were maybe overcounting COVID-19 cases because they would get more money from the federal government? Do you still believe that?

Well, we need to be real precise here, I said several things. The first thing I said was that we were being encouraged to do death certificates differently than we had the previous two decades, when the Department of Health came out with a suggestion that if COVID is involved, don't put it down as a contributing condition, even if that's what you think it is. Put it down as a cause of death, and even the Illinois Department of Health had made a comment that says just because it says COVID-19 as a cause of death, a death certificate doesn't mean the patient died of COVID-19.

So I think that's been proven correct and I think I've been, if you will, vindicated in that regard. The second thing that I was asked about was, is there financial temptation for hospitals to aggressively detect and identify every possible case of COVID-19? And there is. And that's why many hospitals have gone to testing everybody who comes in through the emergency room as a matter of policy. And Dr. [Anthony] Fauci made the comment a month or two ago that clearly, we have cases being identified as COVID-19 admissions, when they weren't. They were a pediatric patient might be coming in with a fractured leg, but they were if positive on a PCR test as a matter of routine policy, they were still being considered at COVID-19 admission. And he said, “this is wrong.” Even in the last 24 hours, the CDC removed 24 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in the pediatric population in their tabulation and they removed some I think it was some 7,000 might have even been 70,000 people from their total tally.

And so I think that there's absolutely an understanding — here it was 71,000 they removed. So I think there's there's an understanding out there that there has been undercounting, overcounting. Sometimes it might have been, if you will, encouraged by the policies in place, sometimes it might have been purely unintentional. But the bottom line is, when I make those kinds of comments, I made every one of those in good faith that that was representative of the data at the time. And I think quite honestly I have been exonerated over and over again.

Do you dispute that more than 12,000 Minnesotans have died as a result of COVID-19? Or that COVID-19 has killed more than 960,000 Americans?

Yes, I do. I think that what we have, when you say killed, I would say that COVID-19 may well have played a part. I would say that if this is a person who's dying of stage 4 colon cancer, and COVID was diagnosed in the last 48 to 72 hours and it was put down as a COVID death I think that's problematic. And I think the only way to solve the problem rather than call one another names or accuse someone of misinformation or disinformation, why don't we just do an audit?

It wouldn't be that difficult. I've suggested this before we could have candidates that are trying to earn their masters or Ph.D. degrees, assist us in this way. But let's actually try to get good reliable data because we have seen at least a dozen states revise their counts. And generally they've been counting, they've been revising them downwards, in terms of their death counts. So I just don't understand why we don't want to get the most reliable data that we could. And to me that comes to an audit.

But before we have that reliable data, you're saying that the numbers are wrong. How do you say that if we don't have the reliable data?

Well, I think when a number is switched from what it was in July, and then in October it's changed. I would think that that would tell someone that jeez, those numbers in July were wrong, that the more updated numbers in October are revisions. And that means whoever said the numbers were wrong in July was correct.

I'm asking because you said that your relationships have been fractured, some of them because of COVID. And I'm wondering if that's not because of some of the things you said about COVID. Especially when Dr. Klein works in a hospital, we've talked to dozens of physicians, working in emergency rooms and in hospitals who were overwhelmed with the rush of COVID patients, and who were pleading with people to get vaccinated. And I know you have said — you're not vaccinated yourself. I mean, it becomes confusing. When when when the doctors who are dealing with it firsthand don't seem confused at all?

Well, I think that's probably not a fair representation of the facts. There's doctors on both sides of this argument. There's a reason why I'm getting large donation checks with notes from doctors saying they wish they could stand with me, but they don't dare because they could lose their job.

So I think we need to recognize the fact that there's a legitimate division. There's a legitimate scientific discussion that needs to be had. I was making a reference to Sen. Klein, because you are asking about the, frankly, what's happened in this world of politics. And I was trying to explain that there has been division, but I think it's been remarkably intensified with COVID.

And I used my relationship with Dr. Klein is just one small example. But I think that we have data in this country that has been inferior to data from other countries. And I think most epidemiologist and scientists and physicians in this country would acknowledge that the performance of the CDC and its interaction with the FDA has been lacking. And so often, we've been across the planet had to rely on data from Israel, the United Kingdom, frequently Sweden, countries that we might not expect to rely on even Portugal's had some very valuable information. Iceland. So I think that we can legitimately have a conversation that says that our CDC has been more political than we ever thought it would be. And that when we have the White House, Deborah Birx, talking about dying of it, or with it, I think that's a huge issue. And that wasn't clarified at the front end. And so I just think that it's been a mess. I think that our CDC dramatically underperformed over the last 24 months, and I think Americans have every right to expect them to do better.

And I don't think that my voice made them mess up. They were messing up prompting my voice to try to provide some context to the given situation. And in terms of the vaccination, you're asking me to get a vaccine so that I could get antibodies, which I already have, and have been donating so that people who are struggling to get over COVID could get over COVID. I don't know what the scientific sense that makes. That sounds to me like pandering or, or if you will, just compliance. I checked my antibodies every two months to make certain that I've antibodies and my antibody level is quantitatively far greater than almost all of the antibody levels that I've checked on my patients that have been vaccinated. So I don't know that argument, or maybe it's not an argument, I don't know that it makes any sense. You've got antibodies, and you're asking me to take a vaccine to get those antibodies. What are we just trying to add, be additive and say, well, maybe we could kick it up a few notches for a couple of months.

So you don't trust the CDC?

No, I think they're very political. Really disappointed in the CDC, very much.

Do you have specialized training in epidemiology or infectious diseases or immunology beyond what a typical general practitioner would have?

Yes, I do. I studied epidemiology in 1976 and ‘77 when I was in dental school. My wife was an immunology researcher, prior to veterinary school. My family is very medically oriented. I went back and did advanced studies as a part of a Bush Fellowship and epidemiology and leadership and communication were part of that. But I don't think that's really the issue. I think that you'll find people a lot more credentials than me on both sides of this argument. And I don't think that it necessarily does anything to constructively move forward to simply denigrate this group of people's credentials and elevate someone else's.

I mean, you've got people like Jayanta Bhattacharya, Harvey Risch, Scott Atlas, John Ioannidis, Peter McCullough, these people are all highly regarded giants in their field. And then you've got other people like Tony Fauci and Mike Osterholm, and others that are respected on another side. I don't know why we would have this discussion. I would think that we would all say, how do we come together? How do we how do we build bridges of understanding? I mean, like I say today, there was this article that comes out and says the CDC removes 24 percent of the child COVID-19 deaths, and they removed over 70,000 deaths from their total death count during the course of the pandemic. Doesn't that give everybody pause?

Why don't you tell us where you saw that article? I didn't see that one.

That one is March 18, 2022. Zachary Stieber. That was from the Epoch Times.

And I think that's a right-leaning publication that probably is balanced, if you will, by other major news media sources. And the person that was quoted was the CDC person, and they quoted off several people in it, but they quoted the CDC directly.

Would you recommend generally that people get the COVID-19 vaccine and get the booster?

I think health freedom is critical. I think that if you look at the data, when I look at it, if you're over 70, and you have multiple underlying conditions, and you get COVID, you have a 1 out of 20 chance of dying from it. Now, if you're that same person, and you get vaccinated, in terms of your risk of dying from that vaccination is 1 in 20,000 or less than that.

So when you're looking at the odds, you better seriously be thinking about getting that vaccine because it will reduce your risk of hospitalization and death. And that is why more than 95 percent of my patients that are 70 and older, with underlying conditions have been vaccinated against COVID. But each one of those patients made their own choice.

But there are conditions or vaccinations in law that are required for kids to go to school. For example, measles, mumps, rubella, polio.

We've always allowed religious and conscientious exemptions.

But in general, isn’t vaccination sort of the cornerstone of public health?

Absolutely, it's been a wonderful advance. But let's not make the mistake of thinking that all diseases are equal, or all vaccines are equal. In this vaccine we have through the VAERS program, which is a program of adverse events being recorded, managed by the CDC and the FDA jointly and been in place for 30 years and is always served as a canary in the coal mine.

We have more significant side effects and death, temporally associated with this COVID-19 series of vaccines than all vaccines combined for 30 years. So there's a legitimate question here. Polio vaccine, you might find it very difficult to find someone who objects to that. But if you look at the rotavirus vaccine, which in the year 2000, approximately caused a dozen deaths in kids, you'll find people absolutely split on that question.

If you look at the Lyme vaccine, which was removed, because of lack of efficacy, you'll see a split on that. So I think there's a legitimate scientific discussion to be had in regards to how valuable is a COVID vaccine for someone who has a 99.997 percent chance of recovering from the disease if they get it. And the vaccine is in its wake, leaving a fair amount of disease and in some situations, temporarily associated deaths to the tune of what the CDC says 20 percent of the reported deaths have occurred within 48 hours of receiving that vaccination. And by the CDC’s acknowledgment, that means that over 4,000 people have received the vaccine and within 48 hours later, they were dead. That doesn't cause a person to say, “gee, I should talk about that?” That needs to be discussed.

I mean, you're making that correlation and causation thing, just as you were talking about earlier with COVID diagnosis. There's nothing in that VAERS system that says somebody who got the COVID vaccine didn't have some other serious condition that actually led to their death, right?

Absolutely. And if you think that happened 4,000 times, then you're going to be comfortable with that without question, but I don't know that.

I just wonder about relying on that system to say the vaccine is dangerous.

We've relied on the VARES system for 30 years and it was the system that told us that the Lyme vaccine was not working, that the rotavirus vaccine was killing people and caused it to be pulled from the market. We've used the VARES for that very specific reason and we needed it in the wake of the 1986 legislation that removed liability from the pharmaceutical manufacturers who generated vaccines. So in ‘86, all of a sudden they said, you know, make vaccines and you don't have liability. So in ‘91, they said, you know, what, we need to be monitoring to make certain that we're not having an unusual or an untoward number of adverse outcomes. And so the various program has always been highly regarded by pediatricians, family, doctors and the medical community alike.

And by the CDC, right? Doesn't the CDC pull a vaccine if it's dangerous?

Well, I think a lot of people are asking that question. And I think that generally, I don't think the CDC necessarily pulls the vaccine. I think the FDA, I could be wrong on that, but I think the FDA has probably more sway in that. In terms of actually having the authority to pull a vaccine, I think the CDC can make recommendations but I don't know if they can pull it maybe they can.

From caller: When it comes to the 2020 election, do you feel that Joe Biden won that fair and square?

I think it's been a long time since we've had a fair and square election. I think that the Democrats were pretty upset in 2000 with hanging chads, they were upset with the 2004 election. The Republicans have been upset. There were Democrats were upset in 2016. The Republicans were upset in 2020.

I think that we could maybe stop the bickering and recognize that there has been an abuse of various tactics used, whether it's helping people vote that don't have the cognitive wherewithal to vote independently. Harvesting, vouching, potentially abuse of absentee ballots, mail in ballots potentially being abused. I think we should work hard in a nonpartisan fashion, to make certain that our elections are as trustworthy as possible.

I don't think there's any question that 2020 had a lot of problems with it. I think we've seen some forensic audits done around the country that did show some irregularities. I know the Star Tribune published an article a few months ago, where they had the Associated Press had printed an article about the potential for malware to be input into these machines into their software platforms relatively quickly. And so I think that there's been enough discussion that we can stop with that argument and just say, how do we fix it? And to me, clearly, that's photo ID like 46 out of 47 countries in Europe do. Let's just do it. And so we stop bickering. Let's make it easy to vote, hard to cheat.

Was the 2020 elections stolen from Donald Trump, as Donald Trump says it was?

I have no way of knowing that.

From caller: My name is Marcus X and I'm the president of Black Lives Da Streetz and also the co-founder of Protect Our Babies. I heard that you guys are talking a lot about the pandemic, but let's keep in mind that there was another pandemic in Minneapolis last year of public safety. We had eight children die in our city. Over 600 carjackings, over 650 shootings. We don't have the resources in our community. So what is it that you can say specifically as the answer to the solutions to the problems going on in north Minneapolis pertaining to public safety, gun violence, carjackings and all the above?

Great question. Thank you. I think we need to focus on three facets of public safety. We have to focus on prevention, enforcement and rehabilitation and I think prevention is going to involve every Minnesotan. We are going to have to take it upon ourselves to be more involved in our own personal safety when we're out in public than ever before. That means we're going to have to be alert. We're going to have to absolutely let people know where the dangerous spots are. I personally think that we need to elevate Second Amendment rights and allow stand your ground and constitutional carry.

I think we need to in terms of enforcement, we need more cops on the streets, but we need to respect the work they do and recognize that police departments across the state are trying to reform so that they can be the best they can be. Without question. Police departments will come in come across a poor performer. Maybe it was a one off situation. We have the same thing in medicine. Doctors who mean to do well sometimes do something that hurts the patient. We need to do that. But we need to recognize that incarceration has to be a tool to keep felons off the street, and we need to make sure judges and prosecuting attorneys are doing a good job of applying the Constitution, and the various appropriate sentencing guidelines to the various situations at hand. Some of these plea bargaining horror stories where someone's should be spending 10 years in jail, and instead of out in four months are horrific. We need to do these things. Sentencing Guidelines do not need to be relaxed. We need to go to the community, sir, and ask you, how do you think we could best have an impact?

What we do too often is we have the politicians coming around in the six to 12 months before the election, telling you that we're going to do this and this and we're going to throw some money at it. But I don't think we're really having an impact. So I think that you have every right to be upset that we haven't solved the problem. And I think if you move to rehab, we need to look to our, our Department of Corrections and say, what are we doing to help people get plugged into a different pathway in life, so that when they're done with their incarceration, they can come out, and there is support for them, they can take a different path. And I think anytime we talk about recidivism, I think we have to talk about what are we doing with drug use? What are we doing in terms of trying to stop the amount of fentanyl and the various benzodiazepines that are being abused and make it so easy for kingpins to control underlings? And have the underlings do crimes that the underlings would just as soon not be doing?

Some of your opponents and some gun rights groups have said you basically flip flopped on Second Amendment issues. That you were at a press conference when you were in the Senate and the press conference was supporting a bill expanding background checks, and mandatory reporting, another bill mandatory reporting of stolen guns. But do you still support those? Or do you oppose those now? Where do you stand on on gun issues?

I've never been anything other than a powerful support of Second Amendment rights. And in 2016, I ran with the NRA endorsement as well as Minnesota gun owners. In 2018, in the wake of the Parkland shooting, when the Senate leadership said we were going to ignore thousands of parents coming to the Capitol, concerned about public safety, and how do we harden the targets and protect their kids? I went to the leadership, so we got to talk about this. And they said, “No, just ignore them, they'll go away. That's what they always do.” And I said, “No, that's not acceptable.” So I did put my name on on a bill that looked at the background check system, specifically, I wanted to look at what it took to be a prohibited person, and what was causing the flaws in the system.

And I knew personally of a situation where my brother had been involuntarily committed to a mental health hospital, when he got out, he should have been a prohibited person. And yet, he was able to get a gun. And I had a patient with the same situation. So I put my name on a bill for a month and said, “If you can get a bipartisan bill with NRA support, and Minnesota gun owner support, we're cooking with real gas.” And that didn't happen. So I took my name off the bill six to eight weeks after I put it on there. But I don't think that that should ever be interpreted as me being soft. That means in the same way that throughout my Senate term, I frequently engaged in conversations that people said, “that's fraught with danger. You shouldn't do that, Scott.” But I think that's part of a legislator’s responsibility is to lead the conversation, and not necessarily turn right to legislation. So that's what I tried to do.

From caller: Hi, my name is Joel. I happen to be a family physician myself, and I really appreciate this discussion. And what Dr. Jensen has to say, I appreciate the honesty. My question has to do with the divisiveness that's apparent across our society these days. And it has been that way for a while I agree with that. But the thing that I'm concerned about is that I don't personally see that the divisiveness in this country is in the people. That I think that by and large people want the same thing. They want to pursue their lives in a fair way. I think the divisiveness in this country has mostly to do with the state of our government these days, and how that's being being pursued with the lack of credibility that many people feel with our current leaders. And I'd like to know what Dr. Jensen would do to help dial down this divisiveness and this lack of being able to accomplish things in government and actually the lack of having any real leadership. Let's figure out how to dial it down and how to get people back to being truly represented in government.

That's a wonderful question. And I think that's a very futuristic question. And you're exactly right, sir. And I appreciate your articulating it so well, there has been an absolute fracture of our political class, it isn't working. I've made the comment. I don't think our two party system works. I think that we need to have more ideas being put on in the public square and discussed, but what is broken, my heart is watching the medical scientific community, I think that we have fractured in a way that I think I'll probably be dead, and our our profession will not have been healed. And I think traditionally, people have expected the medical profession to be that unquestioning advocate for patients, and I think that we've generally been willing to come at one another with a hard scientific debate.

We never had grand rounds when I was in medical school so that we could stand around holding hands and sing Kumbaya. We did it because we wanted to absolutely persevere and find what is the best scientific explanation for the situation we're confronting here. And I think that we have a chance in the medical profession to lead once again, what I would bring to the table is an absolute spirit of let's build bridges. Let's talk. In 2019 I was the chief author of seven bills that I brought to the Senate floor, every one of those passed. But what was remarkable was every one of those bills, and one of them was the pharmacy benefit manager bill, which was no “mamby pamby” bill, every one of them passed unanimously. That means 420, yes, votes came in on my bills, and no navels. And the reason was, I went to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and I spoke with them. I don't like this division. Frankly, I don't even like the tenor of this conversation we're having today because it feels like it's banging up against each other. I think that Mike and I could probably, if we were over a cup of coffee or a glass of beer, we would hammer on some common ground. And we'd say, OK, how can we expand that? That's what we need to do. But I don't see the commitment there. I see this, this willingness to move from a shared mere disagreement, and just go straight to contempt. And we've got to find a way around it, or we're going to be stuck where we’re at?

I would try to ban abortion, I think that we're we're basically in a situation where we should be governed by … there is no reason for us to be having abortions going out. We have tremendous opportunities and availability of birth control. We don't need to be snuffing out lives that if left alone will produce a viable newborn, that may go on to be the next Albert Einstein. We can be so much better than we've been. We do not need to be having Hillary Clinton casually discuss the value and the reasonableness of late third trimester abortions, when you've got literally, you've got a life that's a few inches away from passing through a birth canal and being the source of tremendous love. And we're saying no, if mom changes your mind, she can go ahead and slice and dice it and be done with it. I don’t think that’s where we want to be.

But on the other hand, you say people should have freedom over their medical decisions. Many women would just hear what you had to say and say, you're taking away my freedom to decide my medical care.

I think it gets down to, so and I understand your, your situation, Mike. You're basically saying, OK, Scott, you're for choice when it comes to health, freedom and taking a vaccination. But then when it comes on the issue of abortion, you're not for choice. And I understand exactly what you're saying. And I would say that my position is based on the fact that I think that that's a life in utero. And if left alone, spontaneously, it will grow. It will get to a point where that will come up. You don't have to have any doctors around, don't have to have any hospitals around. That baby will grow. And that baby will come up, and you then have a life. That is a life. And I think you and I may have a fundamental difference between what you think a life is and what I think a life is. And I think we have we can still honor each other's perspective and talk about so many other issues. But on that one, we sharply disagree.

It's a great question. Let's clarify the record. Franzen was carrying the bill and rest was on it as well. And they came to me and asked me if I put my name on it, so that they could ask for a hearing. And I asked him what kind of a hearing they wanted. And they said, “we just want an informational hearing.” They weren't looking for a hearing to advance the bill. So I said give me the bill. I read the bill was about 35 pages. I thought it was poorly constructed. I thought the definitions were incorrect. I went to them afterwards. And I told them, I said, this is not a good bill. I won't support it. But I do like a clause in there about expunging records and decriminalizing trivial amounts. And I said for that reason, if you're not looking to advance this bill, all you want is an informational hearing. I think that would be healthy for Minnesota and for the Legislature. So I put my name on that bill.

During that informational hearing. And you might have even attended Mike I don't know. But I was asked by one of the senators. Well, first off Franzen, Sen. Franzen had asked me to stand it sit at the data sport with her because she felt that I would be more knowledgeable in some of the definitional questions that come down the line in terms of CBD and cannabinoids and your content of THC, etc. So I said, “yeah,” I stood at the desk, and I answered some questions. And then one of the senators asked me, if this bill is on the Senate floor, Senator Jensen, would you vote for? And I said, “Absolutely not.”

So to get to your second part of your question, what why do I think that we should not have legalized recreational marijuana? This is not an issue I think Minnesota needs to lead on. Quite frankly, we do not have the ability to identify whether or not someone is fully equipped and appropriately able to manage motor vehicle at 60 miles an hour. That would be one thing. I mean, we work long and hard in this state and in this nation to determine what kind of person have onboard in terms of alcohol content and still safely manage a vehicle. And there's still argument about that, if you will, but we don't have that. So the infield sobriety testing is a challenge for us. So my thought has been, let's continue the conversation. And if we get to a point as a state that we want to have an opportunity to weigh in on that, why would we have 201 legislators make that decision? Why would we not have Minnesota do it on a ballot question? And those are the points I made when I talked about it when I was in the Senate. And they're the same points I make. And I do not agree with you, Mike, I don't think you said it correctly. I have not said that we should expunge records of people that were arrested for marijuana. I have said we should expunge records of people who have been arrested for trivial amounts and did not have any similar offenses. But if you're selling marijuana to kids in schools, I want to go into jail for quite a while.

Will you abide by the Republican endorsement? Or do you see any circumstance under which you would run in a primary?

I have said I would abide. And I think all the candidates have said that there have been a couple that have flip flopped a little bit, I think. But I think having said that, I think there's an awareness out there that everybody wants that process. If it's going to be binding, it has to be, if you will, fair and trustworthy. And obviously, if you look at the last several weeks, there have been concerns as to that.

I mean, it's been ironic that the Republicans are a party that's been screaming bloody murder, and I've been right there with them. You know, we want your elections with integrity. And then in our own house, you know, in our own process. We're concerned that there have been some irregularities that are hard to justify. I mean, this has been problematic to be sure. And I'm not going to run from the fact that we have many people, conservatives, as well as independents and some Democrats that are asking, how in the world can this process be so tarnished and so convoluted? And those are not illegitimate questions.

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