Meet the Candidates: Republican gubernatorial candidate Kendall Qualls

Republican Kendall Qualls
Republican Kendall Qualls announced on Jan. 9, 2022, that he's running for Minnesota governor.
Courtesy of Kendall for Congress 2019

Former business executive and Army veteran Kendall Qualls is running for Minnesota governor. During his conversation on Politics Friday, Qualls discussed the need for increased law enforcement in the state, voter ID laws and more.

The following transcript has been edited for clarity. You can listen to the full conversation using the audio player above.

You ran unsuccessfully in 2020 for Congress in the third district, why do you want to be governor?

We are actually in a crisis right now. And typically, in a crisis, you need leaders from outside whatever organizations that's having the crisis to come in and help turn it around and fix it. What's going on right now with crime in our streets, we didn't used to live like this, three and four years ago.

The crimes are happening not only in the Twin Cities, but they're permeating beyond the Twin Cities in and across Minnesota. We have people that have grown up here in Minnesota leaving the state and they're doing so because of the heavy tax burden. We have businesses that are no longer investing in our state and the businesses remain here are investing outside of the state.

You say you want to reduce the number of income tax brackets from four to two, and then tax the lower bracket at 3 percent and the upper bracket at 6 percent. In dollar terms, how big of a tax cut would that be?

Here is the scenario on what we're putting forward: whether your personal income taxes or your business tax, everyone in the state would receive a tax cut. What we're doing with this tax plan is ensuring that the state is competitive, not just regionally, but nationally and giving a reason for businesses to stay and invest in our state. Like I said, it's long overdue. In fact, the surplus that we have this nearly $10 billion surplus is indicative of the over taxation.

Is there any place you think, where the state needs to spend more money?

Yes, absolutely, in law enforcement.

What would you do to stop the rise in violent crime?

This is happening in big Democrat cities, it didn’t always happen here. I've been interviewing commissioners of public safety, these are the highest ranking law enforcement officers. We will hire at the state level 300 to 400 and more if we need them. The commissioner will organize these men and women into a task force and deploy them in the Twin Cities, as well as other cities around the state as needed.

These task forces would organize for drug enforcement and human trafficking across different jurisdictions. This is happening today at the state level, city, county and even some cases federal. The number one priority for elected officials is the safety of its citizens. Our Twin City Mayors have failed and our governor has failed in protecting our citizens. That's the number one job and that's the number one priority we need to take care of.

You're the only Black person in the campaign, you've said you don't believe in the idea of systemic racism. What do you think is behind the disparities between people of color in Minnesota and the white majority and what would you do as governor to try to close some of those gaps?

My parents, as well as my in-laws grew up in the segregated Jim Crow south, when the country was sanctioned segregation, systemic racism. A lot has changed since the 50s and 60s in our country. And I tell people this, my parents and grandparents would have loved to have grown up in the America that I grew up in. It is not the same. The disparities that we have today is what I call the cultural genocide that happened 50 years ago, when government programs and social welfare programs initiated a program where benefits will be paid out, as long as the husband or father wasn't in the home.

It started in the mid-60s and accelerated in the late 60s and 70s. At that time, 80 percent of Black families were two parent families and we've gone from 80 percent two parents families to 80 percent fatherless homes in my lifetime. And there has not been one initiative to reverse the trend.

I started helping and I went into the Black community in the Twin Cities and recruited volunteers to help turn the culture around to normalcy. Children, regardless of race, that grew up in fatherless homes are seven times more likely to fail academically to 20 times more likely to go to prison. That's the driver of the disparities of law enforcement, academic disparity and financial disparities.

You have called for a photo ID requirement, was the 2020 election fair? Was it stolen from Donald Trump?

When you look at national surveys across the board, Republicans or Democrats, the vast majority believe that some type of photo ID should be used when voting. This past February the DFL invited felons and non-citizens to caucus with them leading up to the election process.

Potentially [you could have a voter] standing in line at the caucus could be someone that's a U.S. citizen, that was a victim of a crime, let’s say a hijacking crime, and behind that person could have been the person that hijacked your mother or your grandmother.

So was the election fair, or not?

There's been no statement from me that says that Biden is an illegitimate president, none. But my peers and I are hoping that you ask your colleagues to ask those same questions of the other side. Because to this very day, Stacey Abrams testified that she was elected, legitimately the queen of Georgia, if you will. And no one has ever asked her that question that you're asking me.

Kendall Qualls is a Republican candidate for governor. Listen to the full conversation by using the audio player above

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