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Debate recap: conservative gubernatorial candidates are up to the same dangerous shenanigans.

Last night, conservative Minnesota gubernatorial candidates participated in a debate in Plymouth. It was… something. 

The candidates spent the evening trading barbs to try and separate themselves from the pack. But at the end of the day, all of them pushed baseless conspiracy theories and dangerous agendas for our state.

Let’s break down what happened…

Threatening our democracy

President Biden won the 2020 presidential election. That is an indisputable fact. Biden’s win was certified by Congress and confirmed by bipartisan election officials across the country. 

But that didn’t stop the conservative candidates from fanning the flames of conspiracy. When asked if they thought Biden actually won the 2020 election, none of the candidates gave a definitive yes. None of them. 

That’s a dangerous narrative that contributed to the January 6 insurrection. 

But the candidates didn’t stop there. 

Scott Jensen, Paul Gazelka, and the rest of the conservatives all said that they’d enact restrictive voter ID laws, even though Minnesotans already rejected a voter ID constitutional amendment.

This debate served as further proof that we can’t trust conservatives to protect our democracy. Their idea of a “fair election” is picking and choosing who can vote and who can win. Minnesotans deserve better. 

Bringing Texas to Minnesota

Every Minnesotan has the right to safe, legal abortion care. Full stop. But if the conservative candidates have their way, those rights could be in jeopardy. 

Paul Gazelka, Scott Jensen, and Michelle Benson all committed to restricting abortion access and voiced support for a dangerous, Texas-style abortion ban in Minnesota. That’s no surprise, considering that they all supported radical, anti-choice bills in the legislature. The candidates also threatened to pack Minnesota’s courts with anti-choice judges.

In Minnesota, we should have access to all of our reproductive health care options in order to make the best choices for our health. Conservatives want to make the choice for us. 

Still ignoring science

On the subject of climate change, the conservative candidates basically shrugged and made cheap jokes. But climate disasters are no joke to Minnesotans.

Farmers are still fighting to recover from this summer’s droughts. Our communities are increasingly affected by unprecedented severe weather. And all the while, conservatives still refuse to take responsibility.

Our progressive leaders have listened to science, so they understand the urgency of climate change. They’re working to grow our clean energy economy, while protecting our environment for future generations. Conservatives, on the other hand, are acting like the problem will just go away if they ignore it long enough. Spoiler: it won’t. 

Another crisis that conservatives seemingly love to ignore? COVID-19. 

At the debate, Paul Gazelka, Scott Jensen, and Michelle Benson all spoke out against the COVID-19 public health measures that continue to save Minnesota lives.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Scott Jensen promoted COVID-19 conspiracy theories, dubbed “Lie of the Year” in Kaiser Health News. Paul Gazelka consistently downplayed the pandemic and made reckless decisions like holding a large, in-person post-election party that resulted in a member of his caucus dying from COVID.

But instead of admitting their blunders, the conservative candidates doubled down on their dangerous mishandling of the pandemic.

We deserve better

The conservative gubernatorial candidates’ plans for our state would threaten our elections, restrict our reproductive rights, and put the health of our communities at risk. As if that’s not enough, the candidates also advocated for dangerous “stand-your-ground” legislation, repeated dog-whistle rhetoric about Minnesota’s immigrant and refugee communities, and vowed to underfund our schools. 

That’s not the kind of Minnesota we want. We want a Minnesota where everyone has the tools they need to thrive, no matter what they look like or where they come from. A Minnesota where hardworking families, not big corporations, come first. Sign up to hold conservatives accountable and join the fight for a better Minnesota. 

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