Minnesota Gov. Walz, Jensen come out swinging in last debate

Oct 28, 2022, 2:08 PM | Updated: 2:41 pm
Incumbent Governor Tim Walz and gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen engage in the third and final ...

Incumbent Governor Tim Walz and gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen engage in the third and final gubernatorial debate at the Fitzgerald Theater Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, in St. Paul. (AP Photo/Nicole Neri)

(AP Photo/Nicole Neri)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and Republican challenger Scott Jensen came out swinging Friday in their final debate of the campaign as they gave voters a last chance to make head-to-head comparisons on how the candidates would lead Minnesota.

“Scott’s vision is a dark and fearful vision of Minnesota. It’s one where women are criminalized for making their health care decisions. It’s one where we defund our public schools to give tax cuts to the wealthiest,” Walz said in his opening statement.

“I became a family doctor because I wanted to help people. I’m running for governor because Tim Walz hurt people,” Jensen countered. “His slogan was ‘One Minnesota.’ That’s a sham. Tim Walz failed. Minnesota is broken. We’re fractured. We’re (more) deeply divided than I can remember in my lifetime.”

Here are some key takeaways from the debate, which aired on Minnesota Public Radio just 11 days ahead of an election in which control of the governor’s office and the Minnesota Legislature are at stake.:

TAXES AND SPENDING

Jensen defended his hope to explore whether Minnesota can eliminate its personal income tax, although he has yet to say how he would make up for huge loss in revenue. He has already backed away from extending the sales tax to food and clothing though he continued to float the idea of a 10% cut in state spending.

Jensen said the state needs to use its budget surplus to foster a discussion of “Can we actually get to a point where we could go without a personal income tax? If we don’t use the surplus now to help lead that conversation, we’ll never know.”

But Walz accused Jensen of “cutting the income tax so that millionaires and billionaires — Scott’s friends — are able to see a tax cut so they can send their children to private schools,” while starving the state’s public schools. He called that “lazy budgeting” and suggested that across-the-board spending cuts would also mean less money for law enforcement.

COVID-19

Walz said he followed the best available science to fight the pandemic. He said Jensen, a physician, should have been an expert but became “one of the most … dangerous people when it came to COVID” through his outspoken skepticism of the mainstream medical consensus on the pandemic, including the value of vaccines and masks.

“This reckless, dangerous behavior, this pushing internet conspiracy theories, made our job even harder,” Walz said.

Jensen acknowledged he has “definitely been a skeptic.” He said shutting down schools was “a horrible decision” and that shutting families out of nursing homes to keep the virus out condemned patients “to die a lonely death.”

Jensen also challenged Walz to pledge to never mandate COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition for children to attend school. Walz said he has no plan to mandate them but that he would wait to see what new variants emerge.

FEEDING OUR FUTURE

Federal prosecutors have charged 50 people in an alleged scheme that defrauded state-administered federal food programs out of $250 million that was meant to feed schoolchildren during the pandemic. At the center of the plot, the indictments allege, was a Minnesota nonprofit called Feeding Our Future.

Jensen said the Walz administration and Attorney General Keith Ellison missed opportunities to use their investigative powers to stop the fraud earlier. He noted a report by the Star Tribune on Thursday that the attorney general’s office had the authority to conduct its own investigation and to demand the nonprofit’s bank records before the feds took the case.

Walz provided few answers about when he learned there was a problem. He said doesn’t want to “jeopardize any opportunity to put these people in prison” while the federal investigation is ongoing.

“When this investigation’s done, and the Legislative Auditor and the folks take a look at this after that investigation, we’ll get a clearer picture of this,” Walz said.

ABORTION

Walz accused Jensen of flip-flopping on abortion. Jensen said early in the campaign when he was trying to win GOP support that he supported a ban, but softened his position this summer to favor some exceptions.

Jensen tried to minimize how much influence he could have on abortion rights, which are constitutionally protected under a state Supreme Court ruling. Abortion rights supporters have pointed out there are several ways a Republican governor and Legislature could try to roll back those rights.

“This is the most anti-choice, anti-woman ticket that’s ever run,” Walz said, criticizing Jensen’s running mate, former Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk, a staunch abortion foe. “As long as I’m governor, women’s health care rights are protected.”

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

AP

FILE - The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is seen outside of...
Associated Press

OPEC+ oil producers face uncertainty over Russian sanctions

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The Saudi-led OPEC oil cartel and allied producing countries, including Russia, are expected to decide how much oil to supply to the global economy amid weakening demand in China and uncertainty about the impact of new Western sanctions against Russia that could take significant amounts of oil off the market. The […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: Vandalism suspected in North Carolina power outage

MOORE COUNTY, N.C. (AP) — Authorities in North Carolina believe vandalism may have caused a power outage that affected thousands of customers Saturday night. A mass power outage in several communities beginning just after 7 p.m. Saturday “is being investigated as a criminal occurrence,” the Moore County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post. “As […]
6 hours ago
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, plays with children who have been d...
Associated Press

US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The head of U.S. intelligence says fighting in Russia’s war in Ukraine is running at a “reduced tempo” and suggests Ukrainian forces could have brighter prospects in coming months. Avril Haines alluded to past allegations by some that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisers could be shielding him from bad news — […]
6 hours ago
A man wearing a face mask holds his testing tube as masked residents line up for their routine COVI...
Associated Press

China reports 2 new COVID deaths as some restrictions eased

HONG KONG (AP) — China on Sunday reported two additional deaths from COVID-19 as some cities move cautiously to ease anti-pandemic restrictions following increasingly vocal public frustrations. The National Health Commission said one death was reported each in the provinces of Shandong and Sichuan. No information was given about the ages of the victims or […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

State news: Iran executed 4 people it says spied for Israel

CAIRO (AP) — Iranian authorities executed four people Sunday accused of working for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, the state-run IRNA news agency said. Three others received lengthy prison sentences. IRNA said the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard announced the arrests of a network of people linked to the Israeli agency. It said the members had previous […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History: December 4, the “Million Dollar Quartet”

Today in History Today is Sunday, Dec. 4, the 338th day of 2022. There are 27 days left in the year. Today’s Highlights in History: On Dec. 4, 1956, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins gathered for the first and only time for a jam session at Sun Records in Memphis. […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
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 Gov. Walz, Jensen come out swinging in last debate