Johnson picks Kuisle for running mate

Former state Rep. Bill Kuisle, Kuisle’s son Isaac and Jeff Johnson at a news conference Wednesday.  Tom Scheck/MPR News

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jeff Johnson today selected a former state representative from southeastern Minnesota as his running mate.

Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, tapped Bill Kuisle as his lieutenant governor candidate.

Johnson said Kuisle has extensive experience in the Legislature as a former chair of the transportation finance committee and as a member of the tax committee. He said he thinks the ticket matches up well against DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and his running mate Tina Smith.

“We’ll make a nice contrast to the all-Minneapolis team of Dayton and Smith,” Johnson said. “I’ve got some strength in northwestern Minnesota, which is where my wife and I were both born and raised, and obviously in Hennepin County. And Bill has spent his entire life farming and serving in southern Minnesota.”

Kuisle, who lost a reelection bid to the Minnesota House in 2004, said he’s honored to be Johnson’s running mate and is ready to campaign.

“This is kind of like getting a phone call where the car is going 120 miles per hour saying, by the way we want you to get on but we’re not stopping before the convention next weekend in Rochester,” Kuisle said.

Johnson says he intends to drop out of the race if he doesn’t win party backing at the Republican state party convention later this month.