GOP county commissioner Huffman to run for governor

Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman launches his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor. Brian Bakst | MPR Photo

Updated 12:15 p.m. with remarks from Huffman

Ramsey County Commissioner Blake Huffman declared himself a candidate for Minnesota governor Wednesday, taking the number of hopefuls to 10 so far.

Huffman, who has been on the county board since 2012 and was a city councilman from Shoreview before that, said he would begin a statewide tour as he competes for the Republican endorsement. He promoted himself as a can-do official with a track record of results, citing several economic development projects underway in his area as evidence.

"You think about what happens in DC and St. Paul certainly seems to be headed that same way, where very little gets done. Lots gets talked about but very little gets done that helps us on Main Street," Huffman said, adding, "I have experience. I have know-how. I have the ability to get things done."

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

Huffman said he embraces the job-promotion measures in the Republican legislative agenda this year, but opposes the deep cuts to mass transit budgets that could threaten bus service. Still, Huffman said he's opposed to the nearly $2 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit extension.

The race is wide open, given DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s intention to leave office after two terms. A Republican victory could give the party total control of state government – both chambers of the Legislature are now Republican with only the House on next year’s ballot -- for the first time in more than a half-century.

Huffman, 52,  is the first Republican who has held elective office to announce a 2018 bid. But he’s the fifth Republican to put a campaign in motion after Christopher Chamberlain, Phillip Parrish, Ole Savior and Jeffrey Wharton.

There are also five announced Democrats: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, state Reps. Tina Liebling and Erin Murphy, State Auditor Rebecca Otto and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz.

The fields for both parties are expected to grow, perhaps doubling the number of candidates, by the time the election year rolls around.

Huffman, a former Wells Fargo executive, now runs a nonprofit focused on providing housing to veterans and victims of domestic violence. The Bethel University graduate and his wife, Joy, are parents to six sons.

He said he wouldn't continue on to a summer 2018 primary without the party endorsement "unless I'm unfairly attacked" during that process.