Republican Zellers announces run for governor


Former Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers entered the governor’s race Sunday. (MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson)

Former House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove announced Sunday he is running for governor in 2014.

“I am running for governor to make sure all Minnesotans have the opportunity to experience prosperity,” Zellers said in a prepared statement issued as he held a press conference in Maple Grove. “Right now, state government takes too much, spends too much and wastes too much. A renewal of personal opportunity, educational opportunity and entrepreneurial opportunity will make Minnesota the greatest state in the nation.”

Zellers said as speaker he stopped Gov. Mark Dayton’s plans to raise taxes and turned back Dayton’s attempts to increase state spending. Zellers was speaker in 2011 when a failure by Dayton and the Legislature to reach a budget agreement resulted in a shutdown of state government.  In the next election in 2012 Republicans lost control of both the state House and Senate.

Zellers and other Republican legislative leaders say their efforts to prevent tax increases have helped the state’s economy recover.

“Our focus on restraining government and empowering individuals and innovators helped lift our state out of the Great Recession,” Zellers said. “Now, Gov. Dayton’s uncontrolled drive to super-size government puts our state’s progress and people’s jobs at risk.”

Noting that a new DFL-backed state budget takes effect in a week,  Zellers blamed Dayton for raising taxes in this year’s legislative session and said the governor refuses to cut government spending.

He said he would seek the Republican Party endorsement.

“I’ve earned the party’s endorsement every time I’ve been on the ballot, and I will work hard to earn our endorsement for governor. That begins right now. I am the only person in this race who has taken on Gov. Dayton and stopped his tax and spending increases,” Zellers said. “With the support of Republicans from around the state we will show that we can do it again.”

The Republican field of those hoping to take on Dayton next year is already getting crowded. Zellers is the third candidate to announce a run after business executive Scott Honour and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.  State Sen. Dave Thompson, R- Lakeville, said Saturday he will formally enter the race later this week. Other GOP candidates are also considering a run.