Experts Say Lt. Gov. Smith's Decision Not to Run for Governor Shakes Up Race

September 13, 2017 02:48 PM

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith has decided not run for governor in 2018, a decision she shared on her Facebook page Friday.

There was speculation Smith would run for Minnesota's top job when Gov. Mark Dayton's term wraps up. Dayton picked his longtime chief of staff in February of 2014 to run on the ticket during his bid for reelection.

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"Over the last six years, I have talked to thousands of Minnesotans about what makes Minnesota work, and what we need to do to make it work better. ... Making Minnesota work better for people is what drives Governor Mark Dayton, me, and our administration every day. I am proud of what we have accomplished so far," Smith wrote. 

Political analyst and former DFL state chairman Mike Erlandson said Smith has been more of a behind-the-scenes player during her political career, but believes she would have had a successful gubernatorial bid.

"I think DFLers in general are surprised," Eriandson said during an interview Friday. "Tina would have been without question a very formidable candidate had she chosen to run for Governor."

Carleton political science professor Steven Schier said Smith was the likely front-runner in the DFL party, and would have had Dayton's backing and support.

"It's a big surprise that shakes up the Democratic field in a huge way," Schier said. "This probably opens the door for additional candidates."

Currently, three DFL candidates are officially in the race: State Auditor Rebecca Otto, State Representative Erin Murphy and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

Schier said the announcement could motivate people on the other side of the aisle too.

"I think this will probably encourage some more Republicans to consider running for Governor," Schier said.

Smith pledged to work hard to get a Democrat elected in 2018. 

"I believe we (Democrats) have the best ideas for how to create jobs and opportunity for everyone in Minnesota. The most compelling, successful campaigns are about listening, connecting with people, creating unexpected alliances, and building common ground around hope and opportunity for all people," Smith wrote. "Then we need to organize, organize, organize. This is what I have done my entire professional life, and I have no intention of stopping now."

Smith also thanked friends who encouraged her to run. 

"I never expected nor planned to serve in elected office, but it is my joy and my honor to serve the people of Minnesota," Smith said. 

Her full post:

Credits

Kirsten Swanson and Theresa Malloy

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