Zellers picks former Rep. Simpson as running mate

Former state Rep, Dean Simpson (left) stands outside the Capitol with GOP candidate for governor and state Rep. Kurt Zellers (right), who named Simpson as his running mate. Tim Pugmire/MPR News

Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Rep. Kurt Zellers has picked his campaign chair to be his lieutenant governor running mate.

Zellers announced the selection of former state Rep. Dean Simpson this morning in an e-mail to supporters. He has a news conference scheduled this afternoon at the state Capitol.

“Our campaign is about creating jobs and opportunities for all families across Minnesota, and Dean has dedicated his personal and professional life to that end,” Zellers wrote. “Our state will be a better place to live and build a business with Dean as its next Lt. Governor.”

Simpson, of New York Mills, served three terms in the Minnesota House, from 2003 to 2008. He is also a former mayor and city council member in New York Mills. Simpson owns and operates two grocery stores.

“I am proud to run together with Kurt, and I look forward to serving as his Lieutenant Governor and getting Greater Minnesota business development back on track,” Simpson said in a news release.

Zellers is running in the August GOP primary.


During a news conference outside the state Capitol, Zellers introduced Simpson as a great friend and advisor.

But while Zellers frequently boasts about holding firm against tax increases while he was House Speaker, Simpson described himself as “a little bit on the moderate side” when it comes to taxes.

Simpson spent time on the tax committee during his three House terms, and he said he’s open to listening to people about tax reform ideas.

“I think there’s room to look at what we’re doing. I’d like to see some things changed as far as, maybe we look at widening the sales tax, some of those things that have been talked about,” Simpson said. “I don’t think anything I have to offer is unique and hasn’t been talked about.”