Updated: March 14, 2021 01:09 PM
Created: March 13, 2021 07:13 PM
Speculation over whether U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber will attempt to unseat Gov. Tim Walz ended Sunday when the Republican from Minnesota's 8th District announced on "At Issue" he won't be running for the governor's office.
Instead, Stauber, who won his reelection bid by nearly 20 points, said he's content at his current post, representing a large Congressional district spanning half of northern and central Minnesota. Some Republicans and political-watchers had considered Stauber a favorite for a party that hasn't won a statewide race since 2006.
"I am not going to be running for governor," Stauber told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. "I am going to put the 8th District constituents first."
Previously, Stabuer had evaded the question, often saying he was keeping his options open. The decision comes days after multiple media outlets reported former state Sen. Scott Jensen would be pursuing the Republican endorsement. Jensen, a doctor from Chaska, is expected to formally announce his candidacy this week, sources have confirmed.
Mike Murphy, the mayor of Lexington, is the only Republican who has publicly launched a campaign for governor.
"I'm a little shocked and, honestly, disappointed," former Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers said. "I would have loved to see Congressman Stauber run. I don't know if there's a clear path right now for any candidate."
Zellers suggested former Vikings player Chad Greenway or "somebody completely out of the blue" could become a front-runner.
"The person I think the Democrats are most afraid of that we really quake in our boots when Republicans talk about," former DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez said on "At Issue" with a grin, "is Mike Lindell."
"But I don't think Gov. Walz really needs to worry about him or about anybody else," Melendez added.
Stauber, a former law enforcement officer and St. Louis County Commissioner, has taken a role with the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus in Washington — a bipartisan band of lawmakers who claim they're "united in the idea that there are commonsense solutions to many of the country's toughest challenges."
This past week, Stauber voted against the nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, that President Joe Biden signed into law on Thursday.
The election for governor remains 20 months away. But if Republicans want to take back the governor's office for the first time since Tim Pawlenty won in 2006, they'll need someone who can give Minnesotans a reason to unseat Walz. A KSTP/SurveyUSA poll this week found 54% of Minnesotans "somewhat" or "strongly" approve of the way Walz has handled the pandemic while 36% say they "somewhat" or "strongly" disapprove. Of those who disapprove, 67% are Republicans.
"We have to find a candidate that's going to hold Gov. Walz for his unilateral decisions that have been devastating to many parts of the state," Stauber said.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article said Congressman Stauber voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. That is incorrect and the article has been changed. Stauber joined a bipartisan majority in voting against a motion to question the results of the election in Arizona.
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