Jeff Johnson makes Granite Falls pit stop during southwest Minnesota tour.
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Jeff Johnson, the Republican-endorsee for November’s governor’s race, made a stop in Granite Falls last Thursday as he campaigned for the Republican primary in August.
Born and raised in Detroit Lakes, Johnson emphasized his greater Minnesota roots as well as spelling out some of the issues he found crucial, as well as his qualifications for the job.
The Concordia and Georgetown Law School graduate was formerly a three-term state rep. and later was elected to – and currently serves on – the Hennepin County Board, a job in which Johnson believes shows that he can work across the aisle with Democrats.
“I am in a minority of one out of seven [board members], and I have still been able to take some difficult and complex things and get them done,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s biggest emphasis is on jobs and Minnesota’s job climate, a problem he believes is universal in both the Metro and greater Minnesota.
“I recognize that we have a lower unemployment rate than the national average, but right now the jobs economy is not strong in Minnesota,” Johnson said. “The underemployment rate is over 50%, so more than half are working in a job below where their education would put them,” adding that regulations and a complex tax code are scaring away businesses, running the gamut from entrepreneurs creating small businesses up to Fortune 500 companies like Medtronic that are relocating to other states or countries.
Another big piece to his platform is auditing taxpayer-funded programs, starting with human service programs like welfare, to access if they are helping move recipients to self-sufficiency.
“There are so many programs that we fund because it makes us feel good, and we never measure to see if they do what we want them to do, because they are not.”
Dependency on programs versus the private sector is how Johnson feels he differs from Governor Dayton, the Democratic incumbent.
“I think the biggest difference between Mark Dayton and me is the Governor is all about growing government and making it bigger and spending more money and that’s not really changing how we do things,” Johnson said. “I am much more about the common sense concept of taking what we already have and making government more efficient and more effective. I don’t think government needs to be any bigger than it already is, in fact I think it could be smaller.”
But before Johnson or any candidate can take on Governor Dayton, they must win the Republican primary on August 12.
Four other Republican candidates are still running in the intra-party primary, including Orno businessman Scott Honour, state Rep. and former Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives Kurt Zellers and former Minority Leader of the Minnesota House of Representatives Marty Seifert of Marshall.
Johnson received the Republican party’s endorsement at the May Republican State Convention in Duluth.