In 2013, Gov. Mark Dayton and his DFL-controlled majorities in the Legislature raised taxes on hardworking Minnesotans by more than $2 billion. According to Dayton’s own Revenue Department, the tax increases forced every Minnesotan to pay more for government, and his tax bill actually hit the poorest Minnesotans hardest.

That’s why I made a commitment not to raise your taxes, and my plan will move Minnesota out of the top 10 in taxes.

With that commitment, I knew the Star Tribune Editorial Board would not endorse my candidacy. In fact, since the board did not endorse my first campaign in 2003, we have rarely agreed on anything, including what we need in the next governor.

I’m a middle-class dad who grew up on a family farm. My wife, Kim, is a public schoolteacher. Like many people across Minnesota, we know what it’s like to work hard and still struggle.

There is a good reason for the Star Tribune’s Aug. 4 endorsement of Republican Jeff Johnson in the upcoming primary election. Johnson has said in numerous debates and forums that he is open to extending the sales tax to clothing and food, something I am unwilling to do. Middle-class Minnesotans cannot afford to pay more for clothing and food, and the tax will place Minnesota (once again!) at a distinct disadvantage compared with other states.

When my colleagues elected me speaker of the Minnesota House in 2011, our state was in recession and faced an unprecedented $6 billion deficit. As speaker, I led efforts to turn that record deficit into a $3 billion surplus without raising taxes during tough economic times. This required the ability to propose and pass a state budget, while working with dozens of legislators and stakeholders to build consensus. My Republican colleagues and I achieved this historic budget victory over the objections of Dayton — one of the most liberal governors in the nation.

I am running for governor of the state of Minnesota because our state needs a leader willing to take on tough and important issues facing Minnesota families and small businesses. The next governor will have the opportunity to reform a union-centered education system that is failing low-income and minority students; bring billions of dollars and jobs to support responsible mining in northeastern Minnesota, and make our state globally competitive for building careers.

My leadership experience and middle-class perspective make me the candidate best equipped to defeat Dayton in November. I ask for your support in the primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 12.


Kurt Zellers, a Republican, is a candidate for governor of Minnesota.