Gazelka enters MN governor’s race, attacks Walz on pandemic

Published 11:27 am Wednesday, September 8, 2021

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republican state Sen. Paul Gazelka joined the Minnesota governor’s race Wednesday, attacking Democratic Gov. Tim Walz for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the unrest that followed last summer’s death of George Floyd.


“Tim Walz’s irresponsible shutdown, based on his lack of understanding of the scientific data, closed hundreds of restaurants and small businesses across the state, bankrupting many of them,” Gazelka said at a news conference in the state Capitol rotunda. “His inexcusable absence of leadership during the riots endangered countless families, businesses and communities.”

Gazelka, of East Gull Lake, also faulted the governor for closing down public schools early last year as the pandemic reached Minnesota and then keeping them closed for most of the school year.

“He failed an entire generation of children by closing schools … putting many of them so far behind that it would be difficult for them to catch up. But I’m saying we’re going to help them catch up,” he said.

Gazelka was the state’s top elected GOP official until he gave up his post as Senate majority leader last week in what was widely seen as a step toward a campaign. He joined a growing field of Republicans seeking to unseat Walz if the governor seeks a second term as expected.