By STEVE KARNOWSKI, Associated Press
BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — Republican state Sen. Michelle Benson launched her marketing campaign for Minnesota governor on Wednesday, attacking Democratic Gov. Tim Walz for his dealing with of the pandemic and public security.
“The left is defunding the police, crime charges are skyrocketing. The governor shut down our faculties, and check scores are falling like a rock. He crippled important road companies,” Benson, of Ham Lake, informed supporters exterior a precision machining firm in Blaine.
Benson spoke shortly after GOP Sen. Paul Gazelka, of East Gull Lake, introduced that he is resigning as Senate majority chief, a step he had stated he’d take if he was going to run for governor. Interviewed on WCCO Radio on Wednesday, Gazelka stated he is nonetheless leaning towards operating however will maintain off on deciding till after meeting with voters on the State Fair.
Benson chairs the Senate Health and Human Services committee, which she known as “the hardest finances committee within the Minnesota Senate.” She has been one of many main Republican senators on pandemic and different well being points, and on addressing fraud and different issues throughout the state’s human providers packages.
The senator informed reporters that Walz and his administration ought to have taken a county-by county method to pandemic restrictions akin to college and enterprise closures as a substitute of a statewide method. She additionally stated she opposes vaccine mandates.
“Our faculties ought to have been open final fall. Elementary college students ought to have been safely in class final yr. That would have basically modified this pandemic for households,” Benson stated. She would not rule out a transfer proposed final week by GOP Sen. Jim Abeler, of Anoka, for the Senate to make use of its energy to fireside Walz’s well being commissioner, Jan Malcolm.
Walz informed the Star Tribune final week that he is in opposition to defunding the police and opposes a constitution modification that can be on the Minneapolis metropolis poll to interchange the town’s police pressure with a new public security division. The governor got here sharp GOP criticism final summer season for the state’s response to the unrest that adopted the dying of George Floyd.
Both Benson and Gazelka must work to meet up with former state senator Scott Jensen, who’s been operating onerous since March to attempt to lock up Republican caucus and conference delegates. Jensen, a household doctor from Chaska, has been operating on a platform of vaccine skepticism and opposition to the state’s response to the pandemic.
Benson informed reporters her pitch to delegates is “I can get probably the most votes, and I can win.” She highlighted her small-town roots, rising up on a farm in Murdock in west-central Minnesota, and stated individuals in higher Minnesota really feel “very in another way” from individuals within the Minneapolis-St. Paul space in regards to the restrictions Walz imposed earlier within the pandemic.
But Benson hedged on whether or not she’ll abide by the celebration’s endorsement. She famous the current turmoil throughout the Minnesota GOP, which is leaderless after its former chairwoman, Jennifer Carnahan, resigned below fireplace. Benson stated the celebration wants to have the ability to ship a marketing campaign with a powerful floor game that may beat Walz.
Walz has not introduced but whether or not he’ll search a second time period. Other Republicans who’ve already entered the race embrace Dr. Neil Shah, Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy and Kasson businessman Mike Marti.
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