Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) has won the Democratic nomination for governor of Minnesota, a relief for Democrats who worried that a scandal-plagued candidate would come out ahead in a messy three-way race.
With 69 percent of precincts reporting, Walz led Attorney General Lori Swanson and state legislator Erin Murphy with 43 percent of the vote. Both Walz and Murphy ran on universal health care and legal marijuana, positions that Swanson opposed.
Swanson, the only candidate in the primary who had previously been elected statewide, was badly weakened heading into Tuesday. Her running mate, Rep. Rick Nolan, was found to have given a campaign role to a staffer who had left his congressional office amid sexual harassment allegations.
Days after that scandal broke, the Intercept published stories detailing how Swanson had pressured staffers to work on her campaigns. Swanson claimed that the left-wing magazine was “discredited” and had a vendetta against her, but former staffers went on the record to confirm the story.
Walz spent the final week of the race fending off negative attacks from Swanson, especially on his past support from the National Rifle Association. But he benefited from an argument that his electoral record — six victories in the 1st congressional district, which leans Republican — would make him a stronger statewide candidate than either Swanson or Murphy.
If elected, Walz’s running mate Peggy Flanagan would become the first Native American lieutenant governor of any state.