The Potluck

Former congressional candidate Kendall Qualls to highlight biography in run for governor

By: - January 7, 2022 12:34 pm

Kendall Qualls has started a new group called TakeCharge Minnesota focused on promoting two-parent families. Courtesy photo.

Former congressional candidate Kendall Qualls is gearing up for a run for Minnesota governor, telling a group of voters “why I’m running” during an event captured on video by Alpha News.

The Army veteran last year founded the group TakeCharge Minnesota to counter arguments that the country’s institutions are systemically racist. He said Thursday night that his biography is compelling enough to beat DFL Gov. Tim Walz. 

“I have a unique story,” he said in remarks first reported by the conservative news outlet. “My life is a living case study that the American dream and the promise of America is alive and well, and I’m going to use it, and I’ll ram it down their throats.”

Qualls, who is Black, and his wife, Sheila, have spoken throughout Minnesota against so-called Critical Race Theory, an academic concept created by legal scholars to explain how racial bias is embedded in legal systems and policies. Conservatives have galvanized around the issue, pushing through bans on teaching critical race theory in public schools in states like Iowa

A phone call and text message seeking comment from Qualls was not immediately returned. If he formally announces, he would be joining a crowded field of GOP candidates vying for their party’s nomination, including former state Sen. Scott Jensen of Chaska; state Sens. Paul Gazelka of East Gull Lake and Michelle Benson of Ham Lake. 

Minnesota Republicans have not won a race for governor since 2006, when Tim Pawlenty won re-election. 

Qualls recently stepped down from leading TakeCharge, and his wife will be running the organization. He said he has traveled to cities like Worthington, Albert Lea and the Iron Range, putting 16,000 miles on his car from “unsolicited requests to come and speak…. They want to know how we can help. It’s been standing ovation responses.”

He said that unlike his previous campaign for Minnesota’s Third District, he would be more aggressive. “No more defense. It’s all about offense,” he said.

Qualls lost his race against U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips by more than 11 points. 

He couched himself as a staunch defender of American ideals. “If you love that flag, and you love the country for which it stands, you have no greater ally, and no greater friend than me,” he said. “If you have an issue with that flag, or this country, if you believe it is evil or systemically racist, you have no greater enemy than me.”

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez was a senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.