Johnson win brings GOP unity, DFL criticism


Minnesota Republicans and Democrats held competing news conferences today to reflect on the primary election results and look ahead to the fall campaign.

Republicans were stressing party unity behind Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who won the nomination for governor. Johnson thanked his primary rivals for a hard-fought campaign.

“It got a little bit testy here and there at the end, but not much," Johnson said. “It wasn’t a surprise at all, because campaigns go that way. But in general, overall, I think this was a really positive, a very substantive campaign. It never got personal.”

Johnson said he wants the general election campaign against incumbent Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton  to also be positive. But he said he anticipates DFL groups to take frequent aim at him.

“They’re going to hammer me on everything under the sun,” he said. “They’re going to turn me into the guy who wants to drown kittens in the river for fun."

At a later news conference, DFL Party Chair Ken Martin described Johnson as a "tea party extremist" pushing “failed policies.”

“Jeff Johnson wants to continue the disastrous policy of cutting taxes for the wealthy while at the same time cutting government services that will help our middle class thrive in this state,” Martin said. “That is the wrong policy for Minnesota, and we don’t don’t need to go backwards as Jeff Johnson would take us.”

Martin said Gov. Dayton will continue to move the state forward and help strengthen the middle class. Dayton issued a statement last night saying he looks forward to a constructive discussion of important issues in the coming weeks.

Martin also had harsh words for Matt Entenza, who waged an unsuccessful primary challenge against DFL State Auditor Rebecca Otto. Martin said Entenza’s “blind ambition” got the better of him.

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