With Election Day drawing near, recent polls show close races for statewide office in Minnesota. And the momentum appears to be shifting toward the challengers.
Governor: In mid-October, Governor Tim Walz held a five point lead over challenger Dr. Scott Jensen in a poll conducted for MinnPost.com. A week later, Jensen held a half point lead in a poll conducted for Alpha News.
On November 1, KSTP released a poll showing Walz with an eight point lead. This is down from leads of 10 and 18 points for Walz in previous editions of this poll, all of which have been outliers compared to other public polling at the time.
NFIB MN PAC endorsed Dr. Jensen for governor based on his plan to reduce taxes and regulations on Main Street, a strong pro-small business voting record in the state Senate, and his experience building his own small business.
Attorney General: Polls show attorney and first-time candidate Jim Schultz in even better position against incumbent Attorney General Keith Ellison. The MinnPost.com poll had the race tied, while the Alpha News poll had Schultz up by five points.
The newest KSTP poll gave Schultz a seven point lead.
NFIB MN PAC endorsed Schultz in this race due to his plans to refocus the Attorney General’s office on tackling crime and his willingness to hold regulators accountable for abusing their power against small business.
Auditor, Secretary of State: Both mid-October polls showed a dead heat between Ryan Wilson and incumbent Julie Blaha in the State Auditor’s race, while incumbent Secretary of State Steve Simon held leads of seven points and one point over challenger Kim Crockett.
The KSTP poll showed Wilson up 5 points and Simon up by 6 points.
Campaign Cash Is Flowing
As you’ve probably noticed in your mailboxes or on television, candidates and outside campaign groups are pouring money into Minnesota. According to an analysis of recent campaign finance reports by Minnesota Public Radio, candidates and outside groups had spent nearly $80 million as of October 24.
The governor’s race alone has attracted $30 million in spending so far, with a left leaning outside group spending $8.5 million in ads against Dr. Jensen.
Over $20 million has been spent on state legislative races to date, with spending over $500,000 in nine state House races and over $1,000,000 in four state Senate races.
Money continues to pour into the state in huge chunks and the ads will dominate airwaves through Tuesday, November 8.
Feeding Our Future Food Scandal Factors In
Last week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an in-depth investigative piece into the state’s handling of the Feeding Our Future scandal. The largest COVID-19 funding fraud in the country, this $250 million scandal has resulted in over 50 criminal indictments, seen four guilty pleas and continues to roil statewide races.
Walz has largely deferred further comment until the conclusion of ongoing internal and external reviews, while Ellison continues to portray his office’s involvement as a successful partnership with federal investigators.
The Star Tribune report tells a different story: “A Star Tribune review of state and federal records shows that Minnesota officials provided federal authorities with little or no evidence that Feeding Our Future was misappropriating government funds. … The FBI had to build a case from scratch, obtaining records from “hundreds of bank accounts” and following the money to dozens of conspirators, according to search warrants filed in January.”
In debates and interviews, Ellison has insisted his office does not investigate fraud related to federally-funded programs. The Star Tribune notes that the Attorney General “has broad authority to conduct civil fraud investigations and could have initiated its own probe…”
There is still much to learn about and from this scandal, but it has become a focal point for challengers Jensen, Schultz and Wilson in their respective races.
The Power of the Small Business Voice
The NFIB MN PAC endorsement is an important signal to voters across the state that a candidate will stand with small business. Learn more about the Power of the Small Business Voice.
See how incumbent candidates scored on the 2021-22 NFIB MN Voting Record. Find your polling place and candidates in your area at the Minnesota Voter Information Portal. And learn more about the 2022 Election at NFIB’s Elections Center.