Five republican candidates for the Minnesota governor visited the Minnesota State University, Mankato Ballroom in the Centennial Student Union to debate policy in preparation for the 2022 election.
The candidates included Senator Paul Gazelka, Former Senator Scott Jensen, Mayor Mike Murphy, Neil Shah, and Mike Marti. Senator Michelle Benson was also slated to attend, but could not due to scheduling issues.
The candidates took to the stage in the ballroom in front of a crowd of around 90 people to discuss various issues pertaining to Minnesota, including COVID-19, healthcare and policing.
The candidates, all coming from different backgrounds, appealed to the crowd by criticizing current Governor Tim Walz in his handling of various issues including the pandemic and the “defund the police” movement.
Gazelka, a longtime member of the Minnesota legislature, criticized the governor’s decision making during the pandemic, stating what he would have done instead.
“First of all, I would trust the people,” said Gazelka, “I wouldn’t lead with a stick, but with influence.”
All candidates expressed support for the city of Minneapolis’s decision to reject the measure to replace the police department.
The candidates also agreed on their support of several issues including education, gun rights and support for the police.
In regard to gun rights, a few candidates believe that due to the decrease in policing, especially in the metropolitan area, there is an increased need for constitutional carry laws and stand your ground laws.
“Public safety is going to be a hard thing to achieve,” said Jensen, referring to the police situation, “we’re going to have to take more responsibility in keeping ourselves safe than we have in decades.”
The event was hosted and organized by MNSU’s College Republicans, headed up by the Chairman Noah LaSalvia and Vice Chairman Alex Vicaire.
LaSalvia hosted the event, asking the questions to the candidates throughout the debate.
“It was enjoyable,” LaSalvia said about the event, “we got to hear from a variety of candidates.”
“It was interesting having talked to so many guest speakers, we have never had this many,” said Vicaire, speaking to the planning of the event.
Vicaire was disappointed at the turnout, saying, “We had nearly 200 people sign up, and nearly 100 people actually showed up.”
LaSalvia, as the leader of the College Republicans at MNSU and the Vice Chairman of the Minnesota Federation of College Republicans, spoke about what he thinks is the biggest political issue facing students.
“I think one of the biggest issues is pertaining to COVID-19,” said LaSilvia, “ it’s bigger than just this pandemic, it’s about freedoms.”