Minnesota gubernatorial candidates go on attack in debate

Oct 18, 2022, 4:27 PM | Updated: Oct 19, 2022, 10:47 am

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Republican challenger Scott Jensen launched sharp attacks against Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday night over his handling of the violent unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd, expressing incredulity when the Democratic incumbent said he was proud of how his administration responded.

The two gubernatorial candidates also clashed over abortion, violent crime and a scandal involving $250 million stolen from a pandemic food-aid program. It was their only televised debate of the campaign. It was held at KTTC-TV in Rochester and also carried live by stations in Duluth, Fargo-Moorhead and Mankato, but it was available only by livestream in the Twin Cities. It was their first debate since FarmFest in southwestern Minnesota on Aug. 3. They’ll meet for their final scheduled debate Oct. 28 on Minnesota Public Radio.

Here are some key takeaways:


Both candidates were asked what they would have done differently to respond to the unrest that followed Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in 2020, which included looting across Minneapolis and St. Paul and the burning of a Minneapolis police station.

“Sitting on the sidelines and critiquing, that’s not what being governor is. It’s making the hard decisions at the time,” Walz said. He defended how local, state and federal authorities worked together, and said the lessons learned help prevent violence during former Officer Derek Chauvin’s trial for killing Floyd.

“I’m proud of Minnesota’s response; I’m proud of Minnesota’s first-responders who were out there, from firefighters to police to the National Guard, to citizens that were out there,” he said.

Jensen jumped on Walz for that.

“You heard it here. Gov. Walz just told you ‘I am proud of Minnesota’s response,’ referring to the riots in May and June of 2020. Wow,” he said, accusing the governor of failing to stand by the police and National Guard. “Burn that into your psyche, Minnesota.”


Walz said there’s a “clear contrast” between them on abortion rights He noted that Jensen said earlier in the campaign that he would support a ban on abortions, but softened that after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Roe v. Wade decision to include exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the health or life of the mother.

“In my entire career I’ve trusted women to make their health care decisions. I don’t believe anybody who sits in this office should come between them,” Walz said, suggesting that Jensen changes his positions as the winds blow.

Jensen tried to minimize the importance of issue, accusing Walz of “fear-mongering.” He said the only way to undo the state’s protections for abortion rights would be by putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot that voters would have to approve. He tried to pivot instead to inflation, crime and education.


Jensen said rising crime across Minnesota and at schools is “a product of the lawlessness that swept over our state,” after Floyd’s death, and he blamed Walz. “Arguably he is the godfather of the crime epidemic that has swept our country.”

Walz countered that the Republican-controlled Senate in the Minnesota Legislature, where Jensen used to serve, blocked his efforts to increase funding for law enforcement and to fight gun violence.

“We have the opportunity to do smart things, whether it be background checks or making sure we have red flag laws. … The easy access to firearms is one of the problems,” Walz said.


Jensen repeated claims made by Republican legislators on Monday that Walz could have stopped the Feeding our Future scandal before $250 million in taxpayer money was stolen from a state-administered federal program to feed children during the pandemic when they were kept home from school.

Federal authorities have charged 49 people in the case, which centers on a nonprofit group called Feeding our Future, and have thanked the Walz administration for its cooperation with the investigation.

Jensen said the governor has been evasive about what he knew about the fraud, and when he knew it, and accused Walz of a cover-up. He rejected the administration’s claims that its hands were tied by a judge’s order and instructions from the FBI not to compromise the investigation.

“Gov. Walz and his team could have stopped this anywhere along the line,” Jensen said.

Walz said everybody agrees that “fraud is unacceptable, whether it’s in the public sector or the private sector.” But he then turned the discussion to how his administration worked four years ago to fix a badly flawed — but not fraudulent — driver’s licensing computer system. It wasn’t clear how that was relevant.

The governor went on to say that the federal government relaxed its rules when it sent COVID-19 aid to the states — “as they should have’ — and that his administration alerted the FBI when it discovered the fraud.

“Now it’s an on ongoing investigation. I guess we’ll get more clarity,” Walz said.

“You just heard a smokescreen,” Jensen retorted.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A computer screen displays a notice blocking the Wikipedia website through an online news site in I...
Associated Press

Wikipedia again up and running as Pakistan lifts ban on site

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan lifted its ban on Wikipedia services before dawn Tuesday, after the country’s media regulator blocked the site last week for not removing purportedly blasphemous content, claiming it hurts the sentiments of Muslims. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered the unblocking late on Monday, according to a government statement. The site was blocked […]
1 hour ago
A woman walks in front of SoftBank store in Ginza shopping district in Tokyo, Jan. 20, 2020. Japane...
Associated Press

Japan’s SoftBank logs $5.9B loss as tech investments tumble

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese investor SoftBank Group reported Tuesday that it sank into a deep loss for the October-December quarter, slammed by the global plunge in technology shares. SoftBank Group Corp. racked up a 783 billion yen ($5.9 billion) loss for the fiscal third quarter, a reversal from the 29 billion yen profit recorded the […]
1 hour ago
FILE - A logo of BP is seen at a gas station in London, on Nov. 1, 2022. British energy company BP ...
Associated Press

UK energy company BP’s profits double to $27.7 billion

LONDON (AP) — British energy company BP reported record annual earnings on Tuesday amid growing calls for the U.K. government to boost taxes on companies profiting from the high price of oil and natural gas after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The London-based company said underlying replacement cost profit, which excludes one-time items and fluctuations in […]
1 hour ago
FILE - A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle, Se...
Associated Press

Boeing plans to cut about 2,000 finance and HR jobs in 2023

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing plans to make staffing cuts in the aerospace company’s finance and human resources departments in 2023, with a loss of around 2,000 jobs, the company said. “We expect about 2,000 reductions primarily in Finance and HR through a combination of attrition and layoffs,” Boeing said in a statement Monday. “While no […]
1 day ago
A currency trader watches monitors near the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (...
Associated Press

Asian stocks mixed after Wall St sinks on rate fears

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Tuesday after Wall Street sank under pressure from interest rate worries, Japanese wages rose and Australia’s central bank hiked its benchmark lending rate. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Tokyo and Sydney declined. Oil prices rose. Wall Street sank for a second day Monday after unexpectedly strong […]
1 day ago
New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, left, listens as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albane...
Associated Press

Australian, New Zealand leaders’ talk focuses on China

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian and New Zealand prime ministers met Tuesday to talk about China’s importance to their national economies, resolving to voice their disagreements with their most important trading partner that is becoming more assertive in their region. New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins made Australia the destination of his first overseas trip […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Minnesota gubernatorial candidates go on attack in debate