Wisconsin debate on collective bargaining rights an issue in Minnesota governor's race

By KBJR News 1

July 16, 2014 Updated Jul 16, 2014 at 12:59 AM CDT

DULUTH, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) --- In a crowded race, Republican candidates for Governor are looking for ways to stand out.

"I can win. I really believe I am the candidate who can actually beat Mark Dayton," Jeff Johnson, the Republican endorsed candidate for governor said at a Duluth Tea Party picnic Tuesday.

During a previous Tea Party rally, Johnson told an audience member that,"My plan would be to go all Scott Walker on Minnesota."

"The question was will you do all the things that Scott Walker did in respect to public employee unions," Johnson said. "My answer was I won't be able to do all of that because we are going to have a divided government, we are still guaranteed to have a DFL Senate."

Johnson added, "If we had a Republican Senate and Republican House, then we can go all Scott Walker."

The DFL party immediately slammed Johnson's statement.

"I don't know why anyone in their right mind would want Minnesota to be like Wisconsin," DFL Chairman Ken Martin said. "For Jeff Johnson to insinuate that any way (or) stretch of the imagination that somehow being like Wisconsin is a good thing is absolutely the wrong thing to say if you are running for Governor in Minnesota."

Martin added that Wisconsin lags Minnesota in economic growth, pointing to how "Minnesota is 19th in the nation in private sector growth."

Johnson is not backing down from his statement, even though the debate on limiting collective barraging rights in Wisconsin was dubbed controversial by members of both parties.

"I also happen to believe that public employee unions have a little bit too much power, certainly in Minnesota with the Dayton Administration," Johnson said. "I think we ought to scale that back a little bit."

Johnson also added that although he agrees with Governor Walker on many issues, his governing style would be different.

"Will I be the same as Scott Walker? Of course not, we are completely different people," Johnson said. "But, we have some of the same philosophies and I believe he (Walker) has done some good things."

Johnson will face fellow Republican candidates Kurt Zellers, Scott Honour, and Marty Seifert in the August primary for governor.

Nick Minock