Attorney General Lori Swanson to Mount Late Bid for Governor, US Rep. Nolan her Running Mate

August 01, 2018 09:06 AM

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson will make a last-minute entry into the race for governor.

And she's bringing a big name in DFL politics with her.


Swanson, who failed to gain her party's nomination for reelection as attorney general at this past weekend's DFL convention in Rochester, announced her candidacy for governor Monday afternoon.

"I've known Rep. Nolan for many years and I'm so impressed with his record," Swanson said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

Her running mate will be U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who announced earlier this year he would not seek reelection to his seat representing the 8th Congressional District.

"Our goal is to put an end to the partisan divide - the division and gridlock," said Nolan, who added the request from Swanson to join her on a ticket was "too compelling to decline."

"And to offer the people of Minnesota a problem-solving administration."

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Swanson will compete in the August DFL primary, pitting her against DFL-endorsed candidate Erin Murphy and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz.

Swanson had announced in January she would not run for governor this year, preferring to seek reelection as attorney general instead.

RELATED: No Gubernatorial Bid for AG Swanson, but a Run for Re-Election

The change of plans comes after delegates to the DFL convention endorsed activist Matt Pelikan for attorney general over Swanson, who was first elected to the attorney general job in 2006.

On Monday, Swanson said she believed her refusal to fill out pledges and candidate questionnaires prior to the convention hurt her with delegates.

And that the results of the convention provided her with the chance to reconsider her decision when it came to the governor's race.

"After the first ballot (at the convention), it allowed me the chance to step back and evaluate what I was going to do," she said.

Murphy, a state representative, selected fellow State Rep. Erin Maye Quade as her running mate after earning the nomination over Walz in several rounds of voting this weekend.

Walz has officially filed to compete in the primary. His running mate is State Rep. Peggy Flanagan.

"We're not running against Tim or against Erin," said Swanson, who also officially filed later in the day. "We're running for the people of Minnesota."

 Carleton College political analyst Steven Schier said Swanson and Nolan are formidable entrants into the DFL race.

"They are serious contenders," he said. "Swanson has run and won elections by a large margin. Rick nolan has great strength in outer Minnesota - the 8th district. They have real pull-power with Democratic primary voters. They are going to be major players in this election" 

State auditor Rebecca Otto, who also failed to gain the nomination this past weekend, officially announced Monday she is suspending her campaign.

Both Walz and Murphy issued statements following Swanson's announcement Monday - Walz's citing an endorsement from Nolan back in March:

"As some chaos occurs in the political world, we are keeping our heads down, continuing to work hard, and getting our message out to all four corners of this great state," read a part of the statement. "We have been friends with Rick Nolan for years, and in his recent endorsement of us he said, 

"It's an honor to endorse my friend and colleague, Congressman Tim Walz, to be Minnesota's next great governor. Tim's outstanding leadership in the Congress, particularly on veterans issues, and his common sense, progressive record and value system will strongly resonate with both rural and urban Minnesotans. I'm confident he will unite our party and lead us to a resounding victory in this critical election for Governor in 2018." - statement from March 12, 2018.

"Whoever jumps into this race jumps in – we will watch and we march on. We are the ticket that can and will win in August and again in November."

Murphy's statement said her campaign is building momentum, and stressed her endorsement this past weekend:

"We continue to build momentum by focusing on a new kind of politics based on what unites us as Minnesotans, not the same divisive playbook of the past," the statement read. "With the DFL endorsement, and a broad coalition of support that continues to grow, we will win in August, win in November, and build a bright future for Minnesota."

"This makes for a very unpredictable situation," Schier said of the DFL race. "The Democratic party is deeply divided internally between the activists who run the conventions, the elected officials and a lot of the fundraisers. This conflict is going to play out in the primary ballot"

RELATED: After Winning Endorsement, Murphy Names Maye Quade to Ticket

Meanwhile, on the Republican side of the race, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson also filed his paperwork this morning. He received his party's endorsement at its convention this past weekend in Duluth. 

But he too faces competition in the form of former governor Tim Pawlenty, who did not compete for the nomination but will run in the primary.

Johnson campaigned for former governor Tim Pawlenty back in 2002 when Pawlenty was elected for the first time.

RELATED: Candidates in Minnesota's Gubernatorial Race Prepare Addresses

Now he's now running against him, saying he's the better candidate.

Pawlenty, meanwhile, kicked off a tour of the state Monday, starting up north and wrapping up in St. Paul.

KSTP's Jessica Miles contributed to this report


Eric Chaloux and Frank Rajkowski

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