Tim Walz for Minnesota Governor

Big upset in Republican Primary creates huge opportunity for Democrats in November

Tim Walz

MN Governor

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2018 Result: Walz wins by 11-point margin (53.9% to 42.4%)

Tim Walz won a three-way Democratic Primary for Governor on August 14 and now faces Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson in the November General Election. Minnesota must elect a Democratic Governor as a backstop to a Republican legislative majority in both chambers -- particularly involving redistricting in 2021.

Walz is an award-winning teacher and an Army veteran; he is the highest-ranking enlisted service member to ever serve in Congress, where he is currently finishing his sixth term representing Minnesota's First Congressional District. 

Walz received his undergraduate degree from Chadron State College. After graduation, he was invited to take part in a global teaching initiative program created by Harvard University; Walz worked as a high school teacher in the People's Republic of China from 1989-90. After returning to the United States, Walz spent 24 years in the Army National Guard before retiring in 2005 with the rank of Command Sergeant. He then returned to the classroom as a geography teacher and football coach at Mankato West High School in Minnesota.

Walz ran for Congress in 2006, defeating six-term incumbent Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is term-limited in 2018. Walz has a great opportunity to keep the state's top job in Democratic hands, particularly with Johnson's upset Republican Primary victory over former two-term Governor Tim Pawlenty. Johnson is a former State Representative who spent much of his Primary campaign criticizing Pawlenty for failing to support President Trump; he has since received Trump's endorsement in the General Election.

Supporting Organizations

Rating Services

Cook Political


Sabato's Crystal Ball

Lean Dem

Campaign Finance

Candidate Name

Tim Walz (D)

Jeff Johnson (R)

Campaign Spending

Limited to approx $4.2M by Minnesota Law

Limited to approx $4.2M by Minnesota Law

Outside Spending

Wil be important to get over legal campaign spending limit

Wil be important to get over legal campaign spending limit

Polling Results

Election Results


2014: D+5.6

2010: D+0.04

2006: R+1


2016: D+1.52

2012: D+7.69

2008: D+10.24



Incumbent Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is term-limited in 2018. The favorite to succeed Dayton was former two-term Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty until a surprising upset in the August 14 Primary left Jeff Johnson as the Republican gubernatorial nominee.

Minnesota’s ballot hasn’t been this crowded in 40 years, creating a unique opportunity to maximize political investments across multiple races. In 2018, voters will fill two U.S. Senate seats, every statewide constitutional office (including Governor), and majority control of both the State House and State Senate. Minnesota has the longest current unbroken streak in the country of voting for the Democratic Presidential candidate (Donald Trump came close to carrying the state in 2016, losing to Hillary Clinton by less than two points). Minnesota also consistently ranks among the states with the highest voter turnout, though younger and minority voters tend to lag in mid-term elections.

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