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MN Republican governor hopefuls lean right

Republican Minnesota governor candidate Mary Giuliani Stephens and Democratic candidate Tim Walz talk before the Friday, Jan. 26, candidate forum at the Minnesota Newspaper Convention. Don Davis / Forum News Service1 / 2
Former Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers, right, tells Republican governor candidate Jeff Johnson, left, and Democratic candidate Chris Coleman about the upcoming candidate forum on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. Zellers' public relations firm organized the forum, held at the Minnesota Newspaper Association convention. Don Davis / Forum News Service2 / 2

BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—There was no confusing Minnesota Republican governor candidates for Democrats in a forum at the Minnesota Newspaper Association convention on Friday, Jan. 26.

GOP candidates at the forum, also sponsored by the Center for Rural Policy and Development,, generally stayed close to Republican lower-tax and lower-spending concepts.

Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner who grew up in Detroit Lakes, said he is in the race "to give people more control over their own money, their own businesses, their own property. ... I think we have been an arrogance in state government."

He said government should make sure colleges teach skills that are needed to fill jobs, but otherwise talked of limiting government.

Unlike Democrats, Johnson said government should not pay to build affordable housing. Instead, he said government can provide tax breaks for businesses to encourage them to build homes.

Former state Republican Chairman Keith Downey said the state should allow businesses to operate with fewer restrictions. "Right now, we have the public sector crowding out the private sector."

He said if Minnesota businesses were allowed to be competitive, there would be less need for immigrants to move in. "You can't expect a healthy workforce if you have people going out of your state to another state."

Also, Downey said, state regulations are adding up to $20,000 to a price of a home.

Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens said her background as a suburban leader can translate into helping rural Minnesota. Her top Woodbury goals of job creation, economic development and making government effective are needed throughout the state, she said.

Stephens, whose father was a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, said some rural health care problems can be lessened if the state supported innovative care. She said the medical profession can make house calls by using technology.

She did not indicate a desire to limit new people coming into the country. "There are jobs for immigrants," she said.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.