Politics and Government

Gov. Walz makes it official: He’s running for a second term

A man speaks in front of blue sky reflected in a building.
Gov. Tim Walz, pictured earlier this month at a press conference, announced he's running for reelection.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

Updated: 12:20 p.m.

Gov. Tim Walz will seek a second term in 2022, the DFLer announced in a video released Tuesday morning.

Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan appear in the video, touting their record on responding to COVID-19, improving the economy, taking initial steps on police reform, investing in education and clean energy, and cutting taxes for the middle class.

“Peggy and I ask Minnesotans to come together and make a goal line stand to fight COVID and protect the economy,” Walz says in the video while standing on a football field and holding a football.

Flanagan warns of people with "dangerous views" on vaccines and masking who are downplaying the pandemic and COVID risks.

“We’ve got to move forward as one Minnesota,” Walz says, echoing the theme of his 2018 campaign.

Walz has spent the past 18 months responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. During much of that time he used emergency powers to limit public gatherings and require people to use face masks, and he fended off repeated efforts from the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate to end the emergency. It finally did end in July, but the acrimony between the DFL governor and Republican leaders has continued. 

Former Senate Republican leader Paul Gazelka is one of the Republicans who has announced a campaign against Walz, along with Sen. Michelle Benson and former Sen. Scott Jensen, a physician who has downplayed the impact of COVID-19 and opposed masking and vaccine mandates. Other announced Republican candidates are Mike Murphy, Neil Shah and Mike Marti.

Along with the COVID response, Republicans have blasted Walz for what they called his slow response to the unrest after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police. And they are sure to use a rise in violent crime in their campaign against him.

Republicans running to try to replace Walz responded to the announcement with much of the same criticism they’ve been using on the campaign trail.

Gazelka called Walz weak and hesitant when dealing with lawlessness and rising crime. He also believes Walz overreached on many pandemic-related policies.

"Every state wants their governor to be successful against a pandemic,” Gazelka said. “But every state did not do it the same as Tim Walz."

Jensen, too, faulted the incumbent.

“I think that he was slow to act at times, trying to check out what the political winds were telling us,” Jensen said. “I think that was particularly crucial during the riots and the violence in late May and early June of 2020.”

At the same time, Walz has faced criticism from the political left for what some saw as overly aggressive tactics used by the National Guard and other law enforcement agencies to respond to rioting and for allowing the replacement Line 3 oil pipeline to be built in northern Minnesota.

A poll in mid-September for MPR News, the Star Tribune, KARE 11 and FRONTLINE showed 49 percent approved of Walz’s performance with 44 percent disapproving. That approval rate was down 8 points from a year earlier. The September poll showed Walz’s popularity sharply split along partisan and regional lines. 

Walz, 57, spent 12 years in Congress representing southern Minnesota before becoming governor in 2019. He’s a former teacher and coach who served in the National Guard for 24 years.