Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and his Republican challenger Dr. Scott Jensen debated on TV Tuesday night, but residents of the Twin Cities could only watch it live online.
A panel of four journalists asked questions on a range of issues, including abortion, the state’s response to unrest following the murder of George Floyd and the Feeding Our Future fraud investigation.
Walz and his allied groups have made abortion a major area of attack against Jensen, claiming that if he is elected governor, he will seek to ban abortion in Minnesota.
In campaign videos and media interviews, Jensen said he would ban abortion, but in the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade to leave abortion laws to the state legislature.
“Because abortion is a legally protected right in Minnesota, it’s not on the November ballot,” Jensen said Tuesday night. “The results of the November vote are unquestionably soaring inflation, out-of-control crime and our children not getting the education they need. As governor, I’m not going to ban abortion, I can’t.”
In response to Jensen’s answer, Walz criticized Jensen for changing his position on the campaign trail.
“Scott was very clear in May. He laughed at me and said, ‘No kidding, Sherlock, I’m running for governor to get the job done. We’re going to ban abortion, it’s not news,'” Walz said. “After Roe vs. Wade, things changed. I think most of us know, you hear this from a lot of different places, and it’s not about trusting women. It’s not about clear beliefs. The wind blows to change your position.”
The host also asked candidates about the state’s response to the unrest in the Twin Cities following the murder of George Floyd. Walz and Jensen were asked what they would do differently if something similar happened again, but they mostly talked about what happened in 2020.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before — the level of violence following the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said. “I think, again, there will be stories written, which will be written for quite some time. I’m proud of Minnesota’s response. I’m proud of Minnesota’s first responders, from firefighters to police officers And then to the National Guard and then to the citizens who were there.”
Jensen used the issue as an opportunity to question Walz’s support for first responders.
“You heard it here: Governor Walz just told you, ‘I’m proud of Minnesota’s response,’ referring to the riots in May and June 2020. Wow,” Jensen said. “This is not a one-time situation. There’s a reason the Minnesota Police and Sheriffs Association has unanimously supported me.”
The candidate also handled the $250 million Feeding Our Future fraud investigation. Jensen claims Walz could have stopped the program sooner.
“Governor Walz and his team could have stopped this anywhere,” Jensen said. “But when Governor Walz’s kitchen gets hot, because basically, there seems to be a cover-up. There are two questions that are huge on the minds of all of us. What does Governor Walz know and when does he know? of?”
Walz said both state and federal agencies need to do a better job of enforcing rules on how public money is allocated.
“During COVID, the federal government has loosened some rules and has signaled that they should be providing assistance to states in unprecedented amounts,” the governor said. “Now, making sure those safeguards are in place? Absolute priority. Once the Minnesota Department of Education finds out This, they notified the FBI. Now it’s an ongoing investigation. I think once they start to understand that, we’ll have more clarity.”
When given the opportunity to respond, Jensen doubled down, placing the blame directly on the Walz government.
“You just heard the smoke screen. It’s not about the federal government, it’s about Minnesota, and the Office of the Legislative Auditor should be notified,” Jensen said.
The pair also grappled with a budget bill that stalled in the Legislature in May.
Walz said Jensen urged Republican senators to block the bill, which would provide tax cuts and rebates, but Jensen said it would also increase state spending by billions.
Lack of censorship debate
The one-hour debate between the 2022 Minnesota gubernatorial candidates was held in Rochester and aired exclusively on Greater Minnesota Television. This is the second of three scheduled debates by Walz and Jensen, but the only one to be televised.
Walz rejected an offer to debate at least three Twin Cities TV stations, including KSTP-TV.
“Tim Walz is ahead, but he’s not a daunting favorite,” said Carleton College political analyst Steven Schill. “He may be in the single digits, maybe the high single digits, but it’s not safe territory in three weeks.” Schier said that while reducing the number of debates is clearly a strategy for the Walz campaign, that doesn’t mean it will be worked. Although he says Jensen needs debate more than Walz. “The two of them need to meet face to face for Jensen to try to close the gap, because the farther Walz is from Jensen personally in this game, the better for Walz.”
The only time Walz and Jensen debated was 11 weeks ago at Farmfest near Redwood Falls on August 3rd. Only a few hundred people participated in the debate, and people who saw the highlights on TV or online could see it.
It will be the first time in at least 40 years that a Minnesota gubernatorial candidate will not debate prime-time on Twin Cities TV. The only other debate currently scheduled is at noon on Friday 10 October. 28 Minnesota Public Radio.
KSTP-TV will host a “Minnesota Debate Night” that will air statewide in prime time on Sunday, October 10. 23. Walz declined to participate, so Jensen would face questions from a panel of reporters alone. Major party candidates for attorney general and secretary of state have agreed to participate.
We’ll be airing Tuesday’s highlights of the “Nightcast” debate on 5 Witness News at 10.