Politics and Government

Republican Kendall Qualls launches campaign for Minnesota governor

Republican Kendall Qualls
Republican Kendall Qualls announced on Sunday that he's running for Minnesota governor.
Courtesy of Kendall for Congress 2019

There’s a new candidate for Minnesota governor on the Republican side.

Kendall Qualls entered the race Sunday, after touring the state for months as head of a nonprofit called TakeCharge Minnesota. Qualls is an Army veteran and business executive who ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s 3rd district in 2020.

“I’m running for governor of Minnesota because we are at a crossroads in our country. For over a decade the radical left has morphed the culture of the country where it is not recognizable,” said Qualls in a statement. “We are not going to be the generation that lost the America that we have known and loved.”

Calling the state “ground zero for riots, looting and the defund the police movement,” Qualls said he will “end the anti-American agenda pushed by Governor Walz, Ilhan Omar and Keith Ellison.”

Qualls' campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

He made the announcement on Fox and Friends, and joined a Republican field of about a half dozen candidates hoping to unseat DFL Gov. Tim Walz, who is running for reelection this year. The GOP field also includes state Sen. Michelle Benson; state Sen. Paul Gazelka; former state Sen. Scott Jensen; Lexington, Minn., Mayor Mike Murphy; and physician Neil Shah.

Last fall, a draft committee pushed Qualls to enter the governor's race, promoting his status as a political outsider.

At that time, Qualls had been touring the state on behalf of TakeCharge Minnesota, speaking at multiple events per week — often before Republican groups — about the way race and diversity factor into the school curriculum.

In a statement issued Sunday after Qualls' announcement, Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said Qualls "endorsed and voted for Donald Trump whose policies put millions of Americans’ health care and livelihoods in jeopardy, and now, he is traveling the state pushing extreme Republican talking points in order to divide us. ... This move only makes the messy GOP primary messier with no benefit to Minnesotans."