Democrat Governor Tim Walz has won the gubernatorial election in Minnesota, according to a projection, defeating Republican Scott Jensen.
The projection was made by DecisionDeskHQ at 1:51 a.m. EST.
Walz, 58, was favored in polling for the entirety of the race, even reaching double digit support in some polls, but the governor faced a late surge in polling from Jensen, a doctor and former state senator who focused on Minnesota’s rising crime rate.
The governor positioned himself as a staunch defender of abortion rights and frequently criticized 67-year-old Jensen for shifting his position on the issue after launching his campaign. The Republican candidate previously said he supported a total abortion ban, but then agreed with exceptions for rape, incest, and the mother’s mental and physical health.
“Scott either in May blatantly lied to his supporters to get the endorsement of the Republican party by saying, ‘Of course we’re going to ban abortion,’ or he’s flipped on it now,” Walz accused weeks before the election.
Home to some of the nation’s largest retailers like Target and Best Buy, Minnesota’s economy was at the forefront of voters’ minds, especially as consumers faced rising prices. Going into the race, Walz boasted “a strong economy in Minnesota” as one of his biggest accomplishments, even as inflation continued to affect households in the state.
Jensen jumped on Walz’s record on the economy, pointing to his proposal for more taxes amidst the Biden administration’s “reckless spending binge” as a reason for new leadership in Minnesota. He accused Walz of threatening to take more money out of the pockets of hardworking Minnesotans even as inflation wreaks havoc across the country.
The governor claimed in a debate that he has never raised taxes on Minnesotans, but earlier this year, Walz wanted to hike taxes on the rich and raise the gas tax in his 2022-2023 budget proposal only to scrap the ideas after negotiations.
Jensen also took shots at Walz’s record on crime, calling him “the godfather of the crime epidemic.” The state’s violent crime rate jumped 21.6% in 2021 after a 17% increase from 2019 to 2020.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police, parts of Minneapolis were burned and looted in violent riots under Walz’s watch. Since the spread of anti-police sentiment during the black lives matter movement in the city, there has been a massive exodus of Minneapolis police officers, and the city struggles to recruit new officers.
As crime rates jumped in the state, Walz made an effort as governor to push for more police accountability and reform, claiming there were “systemic inequities in Minnesota’s criminal justice system.” Two months after Floyd’s death, Walz signed the “Minnesota Police Accountability Act,” banning training that equips officers with deadly tactical maneuvers to use when threatened.