August 15, 2018 07:44 PM
Two candidates are now one step closer to becoming Minnesota's next governor.
Republican Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, beat out former governor Tim Pawlenty in Tuesday's primary election. While on the DFL side, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz beat endorsed candidate Erin Murphy and current attorney general Lori Swanson.
Both candidates were back at work early Wednesday morning, looking ahead to November. But each admitted they took some time to celebrate Tuesday night's win.
"There is just an energy out there right now," Johnson said. "People are so interested in change, and I'm happy they saw me as the candidate that is going to bring them change to government - very satisfying."
"We're ready to roll up our sleeves, not just to win an election," Walz said. "This is about building a lasting coalition of folks so that we can govern this state in a matter that's befitting the traditions that we've had before."
Walz, who currently represents Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, secured 42 percent of the votes and celebrated his win at the Saint Paul Carpenter's Hall.
He said he's looking forward to having honest discussions with the public and uniting the state under the idea of "One Minnesota."
"We're excited about this," he said. "We're looking forward to a spirited campaign - one that challenges Minnesotans to talk about what our future looks like."
Johnson, meanwhile, won the Republican primary with 53 percent of the vote. He stressed his focus now is getting around to more areas of the state meeting face to face with Minnesotans.
"It's very satisfying that all that hard work and the message that we put out to people actually resonated," said Johnson, who was the Republican candidate for governor in 2014, but fell to Mark Dayton.
President Donald Trump congratulated Johnson in a tweet Wednesday. And both candidates commented on the impact the White House might have on their race.
"We really welcome his support," Johnson said. "I think he's trying to do the right thing for the country and I'm supportive of him. Even though we disagree once in a while. And I think his involvement in the campaign, and hopefully his visit, is going to be a positive thing for me."
"The real issues impacting people's lives are going to be done on the state level and we're going to make that case," Walz said. "Here was an endorsement on the other side by President Trump. They're certainly going to make that case. Minnesotans will make up their own mind if they're going to go down that road or if they're going to choose a One Minnesota."
Minnesota voters turned out in record numbers Tuesday.
The Secretary of State's office reported that, with all precincts reporting, more than 902,000 people voted - the highest number of primary voters since 1982.
Both candidates agreed that was great to see.
"We're incredibly encouraged," Walz said. "We think it's a significant that those numbers are way up. We think it's significant there were competitive primaries on both the Republican and Democratic sides."
"I think it's great," Johnson said. "It means people are getting engaged. Usually, people don't pay any attention to a race until after Labor Day. And obviously they're paying attention in August, so we just need to continue that momentum."
Both candidates said they were looking forward to spirited debates.
The first of those comes Friday at Grand View Lodge in Brainerd. KSTP chief political reporter Tom Hauser will moderate.
Updated: August 15, 2018 07:44 PM
Created: August 15, 2018 04:18 PM
Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company