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Ricardo Lopez
Minnesota Reformer

DFL Gov. Tim Walz is officially asking Minnesotans for a second term, announcing his reelection campaign Tuesday morning in a video highlighting his record handling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Walz, 57, is a former congressman from Mankato who taught high school social studies and coached football before running for Congress in 2006. He also served 24 years in the Army National Guard.

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, the first Indigenous statewide official, will rejoin him on the ticket. She is a citizen of the White Band of Ojibwe. 

“During the unprecedented challenges of the last two years, I’ve seen Minnesotans from all walks of life come together in order to fight the virus, save lives and get our state on the path to recovery,” Walz said in a statement. “We’re not done yet, but Peggy and I are excited to continue that fight with you.”

Flanagan told Indian Country Today's newscast that it was an exciting week with the announcement. 

"We have more work to do," she said. "I'm eager to get it done." 

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It’s unclear who will be Walz’s Republican opponent in the election next fall. More than half a dozen candidates are seeking the GOP nomination for governor, including former Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Minnesota, state Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Minnesota, and former state Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Minnesota.

Walz quickly became known to Minnesotans during the pandemic, appearing nearly daily as he issued stay-at-home orders and temporarily shuttered businesses early in the pandemic to prevent the spread of the virus. He took other measures, including ordering a statewide mask mandate, school closures and business capacity limits that were gradually lifted.

For a year, Republicans attacked Walz’s handling of the pandemic, which they said was heavy handed and unnecessarily blocked kids from returning to school.

The spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant is again straining the state’s health care systems as hospital intensive care units fill up and long-term care facilities struggle with staff shortages. Minnesota Republicans have been critical of the governor’s push to require state workers to be vaccinated.

Walz and Flanagan used the reelection video to contrast their response with how Republicans would have led.

“Their dangerous views discouraging vaccines and masking, and downplaying COVID put politics ahead of science and put lives at risk,” Flanagan said.

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Indian Country Today contributed to this report. 

This story was originally published at Minnesota Reformer and republished with permission.