Republican Jeff Johnson is vying again for the seat Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton kept him from winning in 2014.
The Hennepin County commissioner — who won 45 percent of the vote to Dayton’s 50 percent last time — hit a populist message announcing Wednesday morning that he will run for governor again in 2018.
“I’m running to give Minnesotans more control over their lives,” Johnson said in an interview with the Pioneer Press. “Pretty straightforward.”
In an announcement video, he portrayed the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party as one of tuxedo-wearing, champagne-swilling swells that supports the “swamp of cronyism and political favors.”
That message might have been more effective had it been used against Dayton in 2014. And therein lies one of myriad issues which plagued the Johnson campaign. For whatever reason, there was never a consistent message to effectively hit what was a vulnerable incumbent.
However, having run in two statewide races in the previous 12 years (Attorney General in 2006; governor in 2014), Johnson sees that as a decided advantage over the other GOP candidates.
“The Republicans who are going to make this decision know what to expect from me, know how hard I will work, know I won’t wilt under the pressure,” he said.
While all that may be true, the big hangup many astute observers had was that Johnson didn't work smart. His campaign seemed to lack focus at times as well as having a support staff which seemed out of their league in terms of running a race of this magnitude.
“I know what I did really well and I know where I fell down, and we need to do much better,” Johnson said.
This time, unlike last time, he will offer policy specifics during his run. His campaign three years ago was long on generalities and offer fewer policy proposals.
I like Johnson personally and enthusiastically supported him in 2014 once my preferred gov candidate (Dave Thompson) dropped out upon not securing the Minnesota GOP endorsement.
Let's just say I'm still keeping my options wide open.