Preview of the Minnesota Gubernatorial Farm Fest debate

On Wednesday, August 3rd, the major candidates for Minnesota Governor will square off in a debate at Farm Fest. Thus far, it is the only scheduled debate between Governor Tim Walz, the Democratic incumbent, and Republican challenger Scott Jensen.

This will afford each candidate an opportunity to pitch their vision for the best way to improve the quality of life for the families that live in Greater Minnesota.

While candidates will likely discuss topics like rural broadband access, the high cost of gasoline and groceries means these topics will almost certainly be top of mind for the Farm Fest attendees in the audience.

Gas prices

A recent Gallup poll found that high gas prices are causing financial hardship for two-thirds of Americans. The issue will be especially relevant at Farm Fest because residents of Greater Minnesota often drive further than those living in urban or suburban Minnesota.

While both candidates will lay out their positions on the best way to ease the pain Minnesotans are feeling at the pump, it will be especially interesting to see if there is a discussion about the Walz administration’s attempts to raise gas prices over the years in the form of a 20 cent gas tax increase, and by seeking to enact California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard in Minnesota.

American Experiment’s research has found that enacting the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which the Walz Administration is calling its “Clean Fuel Standard (CFS),” in Minnesota would increase gas prices by up to $2 per gallon, and none of this additional cost would go to maintaining our roads and bridges.

California’s electric vehicle mandates

Another topic that will likely draw a contrast between the candidates aisthe California electric vehicle mandates that the Walz administration enacted in 2021. These mandates were unilaterally enacted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA),and require auto dealers to stock as many as 14,000 electric vehicles in the state each year.

Walz has touted these regulations as a means of increasing the number of electric vehicles in the state, while Jensen has criticized them for increasing vehicle costs.

While the candidates will discuss the impact of the impending rules, residents of Greater Minnesota would benefit tremendously from a discussion on plans for future regulatory action.

This is especially relevant because, in March of 2022, the MPCA claimed it had the authority to enact any of the emissions regulations enacted by the California Air Resources Board. This includes California’s ban on the sale of new gas and diesel-powered lawn equipment and snowblowers by 2024 or its proposal to completely ban the sale of new, non-electric vehicles by 2035.

These issues are important to Rural Minnesotans because high gas prices leave fewer dollars for other purchases, and electric vehicles are much less feasible in the country than they are in cities. Farm Fest will present a good venue for vetting the candidates on these important issues.