Walz, Jensen avoid high-profile primary challengers, Wardlow reenters race for attorney general

Minnesota candidates for office faced a Tuesday, May 31, deadline to file. The results firmed up some head-to-head matches, while adding new dynamics to others.

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"I voted" stickers scattered on a table near a dish with pens that needed to be sanitized on Nov. 3, 2020, at the Miners Memorial Building in Virginia, Minnesota.
Tyler Schank / Duluth News Tribune
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ST. PAUL — The crowd running for Minnesota governor thinned ahead of the Tuesday, May 31, filing deadline, leaving Gov. Tim Walz and Republican Scott Jensen as the front runners in the race.

Meanwhile, Republican candidates for attorney general re-entered the running after losing their party's endorsement and candidates across the state announced their bids, teeing up primary contests against incumbents and endorsed candidates in August.

Here's a look at which candidates are heading to a primary contest — or straight to the general election ballot — after filings closed on Tuesday.

Gov. Tim Walz State of State
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday, April 24, 2022, delivers his State of the State address to lawmakers and guests in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

Walz, Jensen avoid high-profile challenges in primaries

Walz and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jensen will face primary challenges in August, but each avoided drawing a high-profile competitor after they won endorsements from their parties. On the Democratic-Farmer-Labor side, Walz will face Ole Savior. Meanwhile, Jensen will face Bob "Again" Carney Jr. and Joyce Lacey in the Republican Party primary.


Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek announced just ahead of the Tuesday deadline that he would not run against Jensen in the GOP primary and third-party candidate Cory Hepola said he had suspended his campaign.

Minnesota State Republican Convention
Mike Murphy concedes and endorses Scott Jensen for governor during the Minnesota State Republican Convention on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Both marijuana parties will also see August primary contests. Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party candidates Steve Patterson and Darrell Paulson will vie for their party's support. And James McCaskel and Chris Wright will compete for the support of the Legal Marijuana Now Party.

The four winners will move on to the general election in November.

Minnesota Republican Party candidates for state attorney general (left to right) Tad Jude, Jim Schultz and Doug Wardlow at a candidates forum in the auditorium of Providence Academy in Plymouth, Minnesota, on Thursday night, March 31, 2022.
Alex Derosier / Forum News Service

Wardlow bucks GOP endorsement, enters race for attorney general

Republican candidate Doug Wardlow on Tuesday announced that he would again run for attorney general on the GOP ticket, bucking the party's endorsement of Jim Schultz. Wardlow, Schultz and Sharon Anderson are set to compete for the Republican nod in the August primary. At the Republican Party convention last month, Wardlow promised to abide by the party's endorsement but later said he would file to run anyway.

The Minnesota Republican Party on Tuesday blasted Wardlow for entering the race after the party endorsed Schultz.

“Today Doug Wardlow broke his promise to abide by the endorsement and has instead proven himself to be a shameless politician motivated only by his personal ambitions," Minnesota GOP Chair David Hann said in a news release. "Doug Wardlow has an infamous track record of failed election bids. With this futile primary challenge, he will add one more loss to his record."

DFL candidate Bill Dahn is set to challenge Attorney General Keith Ellison in that party's primary election.


The winners from each contest will move on to the November election.

DFL, GOP primaries pop up in the secretary of state's race

Secretary of State Steve Simon and his Republican Party-endorsed challenger Kim Crockett will each face a primary challenger in August. Simon, a Democrat, will compete against Steve Carlson on the DFL ticket while Crockett is set to face Erik van Mechelen.

State auditor candidates bypass primaries

Candidates for state auditor are set to move on to the General Election without a primary race. Auditor Julie Blaha, a Democrat, will face Republican Ryan Wilson, Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party candidate Will Finn and Legalize Marijuana Now candidate Tim Davis.

Munson, Benda re-enter fray after primary losses in 1st Congressional District

Republicans Jeremy Munson and Matt Benda on Tuesday filed to challenge Brad Finstad in the 1st Congressional District primary contest on Aug. 9. The moves came a week after GOP voters in the 1st Congressional District supported Finstad to run in the special election to serve out the rest of the term vacated by former U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn. Hagedorn died after a battle with kidney cancer.

On the DFL side, voters backed Jeff Ettinger last week in the special election primary. Ettinger is set to face Democrats George H. Kalberer and James Rainwater in the Aug. 9 primary for the general election.

The special election and the general election primary contest coincide on Aug. 9. So the winner of the special election could move on to run again in November general election for the next term, or get bested by another candidate.

Brian Abrahamson of the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party, and Richard Reisdorf of the Legal Marijuana Now Party are set to run in the November general contest.

2nd Congressional District won't see a primary race

Voters in the 2nd Congressional District won't see a primary contest this year, but they will see a rematch between Rep. Angie Craig, a Democrat, and Republican Tyler Kistner. Legal Marijuana Now candidate Paula Overby and Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis candidate Patrick F. Bradley will also be on the ticket in November.


No primary for 3rd Congressional District

Republican Tom Weiler is set to challenge Rep. Dean Phillips in the November general election. Neither drew a primary challenger.

McCollum faces two challengers in 4th Congressional District primary

Two Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates, Amane Badhasso and Fasil Moghul, have filed to challenge Rep. Betty McCollum in the Aug. 9 primary contest. The winner will move on to the general election. On the Republican side, Gene Rechtzigel, Jerry Silver and May Lor Xiong are set to compete in a GOP primary before one advances to the general election.

Omar draws primary opponents in the 5th Congressional District

Four Democratic challengers lined up to face Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat representing Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, in the August primary contest. AJ Kern, Albert Ross, Don Samuels and Nate Schluter will vie for Democratic support against Omar. Meanwhile, Republicans Cicely Davis, Guy T. Gaskin and Royce White will face off for the support of the district's Republican voters.

No primary planned for 6th Congressional District

Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican, will face Democrat Jeanne Hendricks in the general election after the pair avoided a primary challenge.

DFL voters to see a primary in 7th Congressional District

Democrats Jill Abahsain and Alycia R. Gruenhagen will vie for the 7th Congressional District's backing in an August primary before one advances to face Rep. Michelle Fischbach, a Republican, and Travis "Bull" Johnson of the Legal Marijuana Now Party in November.

GOP and DFL primaries on tap for 8th Congressional District

Rep. Pete Stauber, a Republican, will face a primary challenge from Harry Robb Welty. And DFL-endorsed candidate Jen Schultz as she runs against John Munter. The candidates that emerge from each contest will advance to the general election.

Several incumbent state legislators, particularly in the Senate, edged out competitors with more extreme views on COVID-19, election security and more.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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