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Our View: Walz choosing governor’s race

Minnesota’s First District Congressman Tim Walz has announced his plan to run for Minnesota Governor in 2018 instead of seeking a sixth term in the House.

Walz’s decision may be a result of many things. He may be reading the writing on the wall. His re-election campaigns have become increasingly more difficult, and he barely eked out a victory over Republican challenger Jim Hagedorn last November. Hagedorn is running again, and will have more serious backing from the Republican National Party, which gave Hagedorn little support in 2016, but has targeted the First District has a likely spot for a takeover.

Walz may be tiring of the poisonous partisan atmosphere in Washington and may be hoping to find more cooperation and collaboration with Republicans in Minnesota.

Maybe he thinks five terms in Congress is enough, and it’s time for a career change. Maybe he wants to avoid what happened to his predecessor, Gil Gutknecht.

Walz came from out of nowhere to upend Gutknecht, a six-term Republican who seemed solidly entrenched in the district. But Walz benefitted from the wave of anti-war and anti-Bush sentiment. A lot of Republican voters were tired of the war, tired of Bush and those who supported him. Walz rode that wave into Congress.

Throughout his Congressional career, opponents have tried to tie Walz to the Obama-Pelosi cabal, but he has shown enough independence on major votes like the economic bailout of the early Obama years to shake that off. It may have been just enough to stave off Hagedorn in a year when the voters started a new wave that swept Trump into office, but in 2018 that wave may be even stronger.

To win the governor’s election, Walz will have to be able to appeal to the rural as well as the metro portions of the state. That may not be as easy as it sounds for him. Past election results show he has been successful in the high population areas of Rochester and Mankato, but the last election especially showed a weakness appealing to the more rural portions of the district, who voted solidly for Trump and for Hagedorn. He’ll have to do better in the statewide race.

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