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Johnson lists jobs, education, fiscal discipline as top priorities in run for governor

Although the election is a good 16 months away, Jeff Johnson is hitting the highway, hoping to drum up support for his gubernatorial bid.

He stopped in Alexandria Tuesday to talk about his three priorities if elected governor:

• Creating an improved job and business climate to make the state competitive with Wisconsin and North and South Dakota, which have been "stealing entrepreneurs" from Minnesota, he said.

• Closing the education gap between white students and those of color. He said the problem is worsening in the state with 10 percent of minority students failing. He wants to empower parents and provide greater school choices.

• Fiscal discipline. As governor, he said he'd focus more attention on making sure that state spending produces results. He said that higher-income Minnesotans who have been hit with higher taxes want to make sure their tax dollars are being spent wisely.

A lifelong Minnesotan, Johnson was born and raised in Detroit Lakes. He attended Concordia College and Georgetown Law School before marrying his wife, Sondi and settling in Plymouth.

He worked as an employment and labor law attorney at Cargill, Inc. before founding Midwest Employment Resources in 2001.

Johnson, who describes himself as a respected, proven conservative, served in the Minnesota House from 2000 to 2006 when Republicans controlled the House and DFLers the Senate.

Johnson said his ability to help pass legislation that limited the state's authority to take private property, cut the capital gains tax, limit frivolous lawsuits and crack down on identity theft and methamphetamine crimes demonstrates that he can work with DFLers to get things done.

Johnson is now in his second term as a Hennepin County Commissioner, which he said has given him a new appreciation of what local governments go through.

Johnson, who officially announced his run on May 5, joins three other GOP contenders. They are former House Speaker Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove, Twin Cities businessman Scott Honour and Senator Dave Thompson, a Lakeville resident and former talk radio show host.

At least three other Republican senators are thinking about running: Julie Rosen of Fairmont, Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen and Bill Ingebrigtsen of Alexandria.

Johnson said he would abide by the party's endorsement process.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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