Scott Jensen's closing argument: Minnesota policies can be like Iowa

Republican governor candidate Scott Jensen brought Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to the Twin Cities on Monday, making his closing argument that Minnesota has a chance to enact conservative policies if voters here elect a GOP governor for the first time since 2006.

Reynolds, who faces a safe re-election back home, touted her record of tax cuts, support for publicly subsidized private school vouchers, and avoidance of COVID-19 mandates, and said Jensen's views were "very, very similar." She blasted Democratic Gov. Tim Walz over his handling of the pandemic.

"From what I know of (Jensen), he’s going to hit the ground running and get it done," Reynolds told 150-200 people in a crowded American Legion post in Golden Valley over a sound system that was no match for a political rally. "It certainly is, thank goodness, a stark contrast to your lockdown governor that you currently have. Time to move him out, right?"

Jensen and Reynolds also did a fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association, which has made a late push in the race. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz leads but the race has tightened since the summer, and both candidates are planning extensive tours across the state before the Nov. 8 election.

Reynolds and GOP state lawmakers in Iowa have enacted a 3.9% flat income tax. One of Jensen's top economic goals is to explore getting rid of Minnesota's personal income tax, though he has not said how he'd make up for the lost tax revenue. Minnesota got more than $14 million in revenue from the personal income tax in the most recent year.

Jensen agreed with a reporter's observation that he's campaigning to align Minnesota's policies with those in Iowa.

"I think it's exactly the closing argument," he said. "From Gov. Kim Reynolds, we're seeing someone who tailored a plan to her state."

As for the current governor, Walz spent part of Monday evening passing out Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters outside the governor's mansion in St. Paul. One young boy dressed up in buffalo plaid -- the same colors that Walz sported.

The first-term Democrat didn't take questions about Reynolds visit or his campaign. Surrogates, not Walz himself, held an event at a Golden Valley park Monday afternoon.

"We can’t let Scott Jensen turn Minnesota into Reynolds' Iowa," said state Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-Golden Valley.

Democrats who support Walz said Jensen was making "copycat" proposals to conservatives elsewhere, including Reynolds.

"We have not seen a Republican trifecta hit Minnesota. People think they’ve seen natural disasters before – wait until Republicans get in charge of this state. We cannot allow that to happen," said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley.

Jensen flew around the state to several stops this weekend and has more flying time scheduled for Tuesday to visit Winona, Worthington, Grand Rapids, and Brainerd. Walz is scheduled to visit Moorhead and Fergus Falls on Tuesday.

The two candidates and their running mates, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Republican Matt Birk, have events planned every day through Nov. 8. Jensen and Walz are scheduled to spend significant time in Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro to rally supporters during get-out-the-vote efforts.