Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson lost to Gov. Mark Dayton by roughly 5 percentage points in 2014. Johnson won a seat on the Hennepin County Commission in 2008 after serving three terms in the state House. Johnson won the GOP endorsement at his party's convention in Duluth. Johnson has selected Donna Bergstrom, a Republican activist and a retired lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, as his running mate.
The former Minnesota governor has announced his candidacy for governor in 2018. Tim Pawlenty previously served as governor from 2003 to 2011. He was first elected in 2002, defeating DFL candidate Roger Moe and Independence Party candidate Tim Penny in the general election. He was reelected in 2006, beating DFL candidate Mike Hatch. Pawlenty has selected Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach as his running mate.
State Rep. Erin Murphy is a six-term Democrat from St. Paul who served as House Majority Leader in 2013 and 2014. She says health care and education are at the heart of her campaign for governor. Murphy won the DFL endorsement at her party's convention in Rochester. She has chosen Rep. Erin Maye Quade as her running mate.
Lori Swanson, who was first elected as attorney general in 2006, announced she is running for governor after saying she wouldn't run for governor in January and would instead seek re-election as attorney general. The change of plans comes after her party did not endorse her at the DFL convention for the attorney general position. Swanson has selected U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan as her running mate.
U.S. Representative Tim Walz is the top Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee. He first won the election to his rural district along Minnesota's southern border in 2006. He has held several re-election campaigns, including in 2016. Walz has chosen State Rep. Peggy Flanagan as his running mate.