The race is still over a year away, but the GOP gubernatorial contenders have started heading to Rochester.
In his first interview with the Post Bulletin since declaring his candidacy, Gazelka, who recently resigned as Senate Majority Leader to run for governor, said he would seek to reform the emergency powers of the state in peacetime and to do more to strengthen law enforcement and “make sure the streets are safe.”
âI think we are a long way off the right track,â Gazelka said Tuesday in an interview with Rochester Community and Technical College. âGovernor Tim Walz ran on One Minnesota. I’ve never seen Minnesota more divided, angrier or more frightened.”
Gazelka, owner of a small business in East Gull Lake, Minnesota, is one of half a dozen Republicans to run for governor. He is one of three, including Senator Michelle Benson and former Senator Dr Scott Jensen, considered favorites to gain Republican Party approval.
The interview with Gazelka focused on education and critical theory of race, abortion and Roe v. Wade, the country’s immigration challenges and the party’s longstanding drought in winning races statewide. (The GOP has lost 26 of the last 27 statewide contests since 2006.)
The length of the interview has been changed.
What makes you wake up in the morning and want to be a governor?
I feel like we’ve really gone off the rails, especially with the decisions the governor has made regarding COVID. I truly believe that no one should have emergency powers for more than a year and a half. So I would reform the emergency powers of the state. But the most important thing, without a doubt, is to recognize public safety and the fact that people want to feel safe.
And the main way to do that is to make sure we have a well-trained police force that can be involved in communities and make sure the streets are safe. None of this is true at the moment.
And what policies would you pursue to emphasize public safety?
I would provide more resources to have more police on the streets. If Minneapolis doesn’t, I would put more money into Hennepin County, if they were willing to do it. This is something that we have been working on. I would work with the highway patrol to use them in whatever way they thought was best for safety, because the governor can. And there are places that the National Guard may also need to help.
But more resources is what we have, we must have now.
There are something like 650,000 people in the United States who have died from COVID. Would you have used any of the governor’s powers, emergency or otherwise, to try to inhibit disease if you were governor?
I would have encouraged the wearing of the mask, but I would not have forced the mandate of the mask. I would not have closed the schools because the children were not in danger in the schools. I wouldn’t have made the decisions where bars can have 50 people and at the same time churches can only have 10. Those were all these arbitrary decisions.
But I would also have said – and always said – that the virus is real and very serious, and people need to take it seriously. I wouldn’t have sheltered everyone there. At first I probably would have accommodated people over 70 years old, because that is where the large number of deaths occurred.
Why only large businesses could operate and small businesses closed, in my opinion, was a huge mistake.
If you’ve been through Rochester today, there are a lot of “Hire Now” signs. Employers are starving for workers. What would an economic program of the Gazelka government look like?
We already know there is this upcoming labor shortage. But it is clear that the only thing that has changed that has made this dramatic change is COVID, the way we have responded to it, unemployment benefits and all that. That is why we need to review the way we manage social assistance. Anyone who can work must work in one way or another, not only for their own livelihood, but for the good of the entire state.
Would you like to sign a law banning critical race theory?
I don’t know how to ban it, but I want the curriculum to talk about everything: the faults but also the triumphs. I have seen too many children graduate and they are not proud to be citizens of the greatest country in the world. People have told me that the flag is a racist symbol. So you don’t know America. I am not that concerned with critical race theory. Is it teaching American triumphs alongside our faults?
Do you expect Roe vs. Wade to be called off? And if so, what impact would that have on the GOP’s race for approval for the governorship?
I don’t think it will be canceled. I think (the US Supreme Court) will look at issues on a case-by-case basis. The most recent is Texas legislation (which prohibits abortion after a heartbeat is detected).
What people don’t know is that Minnesota has Doe against Gomez, which is our own state’s abortion law. So I am pro-life. I have always been pro-life. I think protecting the unborn child until natural death – thinking of everything else as sure that they get a good education, have a job opportunity, and have good health care. For me, it’s pro-life.
The Republican candidates for public office have lost 26 of 27 races since 2006. How do you plan to change that?
The # 1 problem is public safety right now, without a doubt. So between public safety and education, I think these will be issues that people are looking for for a change. I have worked with blue collar unions for seven or eight years. Democrats chose an environmental agenda over these union jobs.
Was the election stolen from former President Trump in 2020?
So the only state I have focused on is Minnesota. And I said I don’t think Trump won Minnesota.
Governor Tim Pawlenty sent troops from the Minnesota National Guard to consolidate the border with Mexico when he ruled the state. Would you like to be a governor?
Absoutely. We should support whatever legal immigration we can handle. But if you reward illegal immigration and let people cross the border, that’s a huge mistake.