Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) said Monday he will run for governor of Minnesota next year, creating a potential pickup opportunity for Republicans in a district won handily by President Trump.
Walz told the Post Bulletin that he will officially file the paperwork for his candidacy later Monday.
“I think now more than ever people are just wanting [government] to work. They are not looking for the partisanship. They are not looking for me to have all the answers, but they are certainly looking for me to bring people together to find those solutions that we all know are there,” Walz said.
His decision to run for governor would make what was already expected to be a competitive district even more so in 2018.
Walz, first elected in 2006, is the top Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
He barely won reelection in November, defeating Republican Jim Hagedorn by less than a point. Hagedorn is already running for the seat again.
Trump won 53 percent of the vote in Walz’s district, compared to Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE’s 38 percent.
The House GOP campaign organization, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), had already planned to make Walz a target next year.
“Apparently, Tim Walz would rather bail out than face a tough race for his seat,” NRCC spokesman Matt Gorman said in a statement. “The NRCC will continue to target this open seat aggressively and are confident we’ll turn it red in 2018.”
Walz told the Post Bulletin that he’s confident Democrats can keep the seat in their column. Democrats would need to flip 24 GOP-held seats in order to win back the House next year and can’t afford to lose any seats they currently hold.
“I trust the people of the 1st District. I would argue they’ve chosen wisely six times in a row, and I anticipate they’ll continue to do so,” Walz said.
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Walz is entering a crowded field for his party’s gubernatorial nomination. Three other candidates are running for the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor nomination for governor: St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Minnesota state Rep. Erin Murphy and State Auditor Rebecca Otto.
Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), another Democrat targeted by the NRCC in a district won by Trump, is also considering a gubernatorial bid.