Updated: 08/13/2014 6:20 PM
Created: 08/12/2014 9:33 PM KSTP.com
By: Katherine Johnson
Hennepin County commissioner Jeff Johnson has captured the Republican nomination for Minnesota governor over three major rivals.
Tuesday's victory means Johnson advances to a fall showdown with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. It's also a validation for the Republican Party, which endorsed Johnson this spring before what turned into the party's first competitive primary for governor in 20 years.
Johnson beat former House Speaker Kurt Zellers, business executive Scott Honour and former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert. Johnson benefited from the phone calls, canvassing and other outreach that came with party support and helped make up for better fundraising by some of his rivals.
For the first time since his victory speech, Johnson called on his three primary challengers to join him and show a united front.
"If we want to beat Mark Dayton, we have to be united as a Republican party," said Johnson. "We have been divided at times, in the past, in years past, and it's really hurt us. And we can't do that this year."
After he thanked his newest league of supporters, Scott Honour, Marty Seifert and Kurt Zellers, Johnson at a joint news conference Wednesday. He also addressed some key issues he'll campaign on over the next 12 weeks. Johnson spoke of encouraging new business growth and stopping the plans in place to increase the minimum wage. Instead he says he'll focus on creating better jobs.
Within an hour of his announcement, the DFL party responded.
"Tax cuts for millionaires and corporations, cutting funding for education and suspending the minimum wage increases are not the way to continue the progress we've made over the last two years," said DFL party chair Ken Martin.
Johnson also mentioned he'll take on as many debates leading up to the election as the Governor will allow.
It is Johnson's second bid for statewide office. He lost in a 2006 campaign for attorney general. He has previously served in the Legislature.
The Associated Press Contributed to this Story.