Jensen says he can’t be sure who won the 2020 election, which is all you need to know

August 19, 2022 6:00 am

GOP nominee for governor Scott Jensen at an event in early May. Photo by Nicole Neri/Minnesota Reformer.

When Republican nominee for governor Scott Jensen was asked on Minnesota Public Radio in March whether the 2020 election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump, here’s what he said: “I have no way of knowing that.” 

This was a clever response because he cast doubt on the 2020 election, thereby pleasing the credulous fans of the former president, while declining to put himself squarely in their camp. That way, he wouldn’t alienate the moderate Republicans he needs to win. 

Clever, but in the way of a clever adolescent. To say you have no way of knowing if the election was stolen is like saying you have no way of knowing if the moon landing was faked. After all, I wasn’t there

The evidence is overwhelming: The Associated Press completed an exhaustive examination of every potential case of voter fraud in the six key battleground states and found fewer than 475 votes among millions cast, a tiny number that would have made no difference in the election outcome. 

Trump’s claims were repeatedly thrown out by judges, including ones he appointed. A phony “audit” in Maricopa County, Arizona, which Trump supporters tried to engineer to favor Trump, arrived at the same result as the official tally. This time, however, after a hand tally of nearly 2.1 million ballots, President Joe Biden increased his lead. 

Trump’s own loyalist attorney general, William Barr, called Trump’s voter fraud claims “bullshit,” as did his campaign staff

Jensen’s clever nonsense, pretending not to know who won the 2020 election, is not without consequence: As the U.S. House Jan. 6 committee hearings have shown, the doubt sown by Trump and his minions fueled the rage of the crowd, which was aimed at Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress for refusing to overturn the results of the presidential election.

Democracy was on the line, and only survived because a few decent people refused to go along. 

This is not Jensen’s only gesture to the newly emergent authoritarian wing of the Republican Party. 

Jensen, a Chaska physician, acknowledged back in June that he’s faced repeated investigations — apparently none leading to sanction — from the state Board of Medical Practice for his, er, unconventional views about COVID-19, masks and vaccines. 

Jensen nonchalantly issued a warning to members of the board: “If I get elected in November, do you think their jobs are secure? I get to appoint them. We’ll have picks,” he said at a June meet-and-greet. 

This was reminiscent of an incident in April, when Jensen casually called for the jailing of Secretary of State Steve Simon for agreeing to a court-approved consent decree making it easier for people to vote absentee during the pandemic year of 2020. 

“And Steve Simon, you maybe better check out to see if you look good in stripes, because you’ve gotten away with too much, too long under (Attorney General Keith) Ellison, and the hammer’s coming down.”

Who’s bringing the hammer down exactly?

Having watched Jensen in the Legislature for a few years, he doesn’t strike me as the junta type. 

Instead, he’s evidence of what’s happened to our politics now that the forces of authoritarianism have been unleashed by Trumpism. 

The demagogue has drawn a map, and now anyone whose only principle is a lust for power will follow it. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

J. Patrick Coolican
J. Patrick Coolican

J. Patrick Coolican is Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Reformer. Previously, he was a Capitol reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune for five years, after a Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and time at the Las Vegas Sun, Seattle Times and a few other stops along the way. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and two young children