The Star Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement for governor (“Tim Walz can unite our state,” Oct. 28) cannot be based on a search for good state government. The board’s contention that Walz is best suited be to be a “bridge-builder” and unite our state, and that his congressional record was “bipartisan,” is simply partisan hype.

Walz’s campaign theme of “One Minnesota” rings hollow when you examine his liberal, left-of-center positions on the issues in the governor’s campaign, as well as his congressional voting record. In the governor’s debates and in his radio ads, Walz’s claim that he worked in a bipartisan fashion to achieve health care legislation is at best a gross exaggeration when you consider that not a single Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

In the gubernatorial debates between Walz and Jeff Johnson, Walz always spoke in glowing generalities about his policy proposals. He was never specific in his positions but offered a full plate of platitudes, banalities and cliches. Johnson provided details of his policy positions and was firm in his convictions.

Walz has proposed significant spending increases that would result in, if adopted, a 43 percent increase in the state budget and a huge increase in state taxes. Minnesota already has the dubious honor of having the third-highest income tax rate of the 50 states, right next to California and Oregon. Walz’s tax and spending policy would be a job killer for our state and would result in an exodus of businesses and residents to other states. Such fiscally irresponsible proposals would divide — not unite — the business and working people of our state.

The same is true of Walz’s position in support of making Minnesota a sanctuary state that, I believe, would protect illegal immigrants and criminals. Such a policy would prove highly divisive in our state.

The Star Tribune’s lengthy news profile of Walz accurately describes Walz’s constantly shifting positions on the issues. He claims a “moderate” record in Congress, but his positions on tax and spending increases, immigration, abortion and gun-owners’ rights are all left of center.

Meanwhile, the Editorial Board’s criticism of Johnson for “ideological inflexibility” is also wrong. I served with Johnson in the Minnesota House of Representatives and knew him to be a person of outstanding character and integrity. I found that Johnson possessed a set of core values that most Minnesotans share and, unlike Walz, was consistent in his beliefs and policy positions.

Johnson is the most qualified person to lead our state as governor. In terms of background and experience in public service, Johnson’s record is much closer to people and the “grass roots” and better relates to the office of governor. Jeff served three terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives and three terms as an elected county commissioner. Importantly, Johnson is a lifelong Minnesotan and native of Detroit Lakes. Walz is not a native Minnesotan and, in fact, has lived a majority of his life in another state.

Finally, I have noted a glaring difference between Johnson and Walz in how they approached the offices they held and their work ethic. Johnson, as a legislator and county commissioner, amassed an outstanding attendance record in elected office. Johnson always showed up for work and voted on the bills and issues before him and did the job he was elected to do.

The same cannot be said for Walz. In 2018 alone, Walz has missed more than 60 percent of his votes in Congress — yet still collected his full salary of $165,000. Unlike Johnson, Walz demonstrates a contempt for his constituents and the taxpayers.

I am convinced that Jeff Johnson — not Tim Walz — is the best bet to move Minnesota forward and unite our state for a brighter future.

Steve Wenzel, of Little Falls, is an instructor of political science and executive director of the Gordon Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Government at Central Lakes College. He was a DFL member of the Minnesota House, 1973-2001. He has since become a Republican.