Three-term state Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen has joined a growing field of Republicans interested in running against Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014.
Ingebrigtsen, first elected to his Alexandria-area Senate seat in 2006, says he’s been getting encouragement from supporters to run for the state’s highest office and plans to make his final decision in “a month or a month and a half.” He would join a growing field of GOP candidates seeking the office, including Maple Grove Rep. Kurt Zellers, Lakeville Sen. Dave Thompson, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and Orono businessman Scott Honour.
“I’m not going to jump into this without giving it a lot of thought,” Ingebrigtsen said in an interview with Politics in Minnesota this week. “I want to make sure it’s the right thing for me and my family.”
Ingebrigtsen said he would bring “common sense” to the governor’s office, calling himself as an “everyday Minnesotan.” Before coming to the Legislature, Ingebrigtsen was the Douglas County Sheriff and deputy sheriff, emergency management director and spent years as a bus driver in the district. Much like the rest of the GOP field for governor, Ingebrigtsen criticized Dayton for raising taxes last session. In particular, Ingebrigtsen said the governor vowed to raise taxes on the wealthy during his campaign, but then added cigarette taxes to the mix during this year.
“I’m very critical of someone who will say they will raise taxes on those who have the means and then go ahead and turn around and tax low and middle income people. That’s something you wouldn’t see from me,” he said. “What you see is what you get with this guy, and I think that would resonate with Minnesotans.”
Ingebrigtsen said he has a history of working across the aisle during his time as a state senator. He was one of the few Republican senators who openly bucked a GOP effort to pass a right-to-work constitutional amendment in 2012. During Republicans’ two-year control of the Legislature, Ingebrigtsen chaired the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee. He also touted his ties to rural Minnesota and his opposition to DFL efforts to pass universal background checks this session.
Without much current name recognition, Ingebrigtsen acknowledged he’d have to work hard to promote himself as a candidate and build a solid funding base for his campaign. “I’ve been told that it would never be able to happen because I wouldn’t raise enough money, but I think Minnesotans are ready for someone other than multi-millionaires that can afford to run for office,” he said. “They are looking for a new sheriff in town, and I could be that.”
Ingebrigtsen said isn’t willing to make any commitments on whether he would abide by the GOP endorsement, noting that he has had problems with the way that process has been run in the past. “I was very frustrated with the endorsing process last time, I don’t necessarily believe that’s the right process,” he said.
Several other candidates are openly mulling a run for the office, including former House Majority Leader Matt Dean, former gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert and GOP Sens. Julie Rosen and David Hann. Hann, the current Senate minority leader, said he would announce his plans by the end of the week.