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Candidates, supporters begin closing arguments

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Minnesota DFL party chair Ken Martin and statewide candidates address a get out the vote rally in St. Paul. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

Minnesota’s major party candidates for statewide office are taking to the road for the final leg of the campaign.

The Minnesota DFL held a rally outside the state Capitol Thursday to launch a five-day get out the vote bus tour. Other stops were scheduled for later in the day in Mankato, Rochester and Winona.

State DFL party chair Ken Martin warned the crowd against being complacent the remaining days.

“There is no blue wave that’s going to come and save us,” Martin said. “The only thing that can help us is all of us here today willing to do the hard work.”

DFL candidate for governor Tim Walz told supporters that the future of education, health care and the environment are on the ballot this year.

“We’ve got 120 hours to shape the progressive future of Minnesota that sits in front of us,” Walz said.

Republican candidates are set to kick off their statewide bus tour Thursday night in Duluth. Jeff Johnson, the Republican candidate for governor, said he’s ready for the final push.

“It’s 100 percent retail politics from here on out,” Johnson said.

Johnson and Walz are scheduled to square off in one last television debate Friday night.

Attorney general hopeful Keith Ellison was the only DFL statewide candidate not on hand for the St. Paul kickoff. His campaign said he had another commitment but will join the tour Friday.

Ellison is locked in a tight contest with Republican Doug Wardlow. Neither attorney candidate was holding press conferences Thursday. But their surrogates were.

State Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood and state Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, said Wardlow would do a better job of protecting health care access than Ellison.

“One wants to be the lawyer for the resistance movement, one wants to be the lawyer for Minnesotans, and when it comes to health care it’s a big deal,” Dean said.

In another event, a group of religious leaders spoke out in support of Ellison.

Jane McBride, a United Church of Christ pastor, said Ellison is a champion of justice.

“He is the candidate who believes in justice, who practices justice and who stands up and shows up for justice,” McBride