Response to Governor Dayton's "State of the State" Address

As you may or may not know, Governor Mark Dayton gave his final "State of the State" address this evening. After 40 years in elected office, this was Governor Dayton's final major address. Though we disagree on many things, he has given many years in service to our great state and I would like to thank him for serving Minnesota and conducting himself as a statesman. With Governor Dayton's time as governor coming to an end, I look forward to electing a Republican governor this November to partner with our legislative majorities and the conservative reforms that they will be able to enact together.

Now that Governor Dayton has given his speech, I wanted to tell you about the conservative legislation that we have passed in the past year and are fighting for in St. Paul today, often in spite of Governor Dayton.

$650 Million in Tax Cuts
Last year, I was proud to be a vocal advocate for the $650 million in tax relief that we were able to provide to Minnesota families and small businesses.

This year, we are fighting to simplify our tax code in Minnesota to help put even more money back in the pockets of hardworking Minnesotans.

$300 Million in Infrastructure Investment
Last year, we fought for, and got, $300 million in new infrastructure spending without having to raise the gas tax in Minnesota, which is already higher than it is in half of the country.

This year, we are advocating for even more investment in Minnesota's infrastructure, including funding to complete the Highway 14 project, which is a vital thoroughfare that connects all of us here in Minnesota's 1st District.

Conservative Health Care Reforms
Last year, we passed legislation that lowered health care premiums for 98% of Minnesotans after the failure of Obamacare and MNsure in our state. I have personally been an advocate for innovations in healthcare that will allow all Minnesotans to better afford healthcare and get better access to care.

 This year, we will continue to fight to provide more choices in health care, increase transparency, and allow the incredibly talented people of Minnesota to continue to innovate to provide better care for us all. 

Protecting Our Most Vulnerable
Last year, our budget took serious steps to address the opioid crisis that has affected so many Minnesotans.

 This year, we are renewing our focus to help those that are dealing with addiction. I will be fighting to provide resources to support prevention and treatment for those that are struggling.

After the recent school shooting in Florida, I also authored a bill that will provide funding to make our schools safer. Every school is different and I want to empower those who know their students and school best to take the steps that they know the need to take to keep our children safe.

 Almost every day on the campaign trail and in St. Paul, I get asked one of my favorite questions to answer, "how do we know that you'll support the conservative Republican agenda when you get to Washington?"

It's a great question that everyone should ask the candidates hoping to represent them, and my answer is simple, "because the Republican agenda in Washington is the same conservative agenda that I have fought for in Minnesota!"

I have fought for and championed tax cuts, infrastructure investment, making healthcare more affordable for regular Minnesotans, and taking care of our most vulnerable, like those battling opioid addiction and ensuring the safety of our children at school. Our agenda, my agenda, is the same agenda as our Republican Congress in Washington, and I have already cast my votes in St. Paul for the policies I am telling you I want to enact, and I can't wait to do the same in Washington.

MN Senate GOP agenda calls for school safety money

Minnesota Senate Republicans are responding to the recent school shooting deaths in Florida with a plan to fund school security improvements throughout the state.

Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, introduced legislation Monday that would establish a safe schools revenue program to provide general fund allocations to school districts. Nelson, the chair of the Senate education finance committee, said the funding would be separate from the existing safe schools levy that districts can impose on local taxpayers.

“We must have safe and secure schools. That is essential,” Nelson said.

Nelson, who is a candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s 1st District, doesn’t yet know how much money would be needed to get the program underway. She said she is waiting until the release later this week of the new state budget forecast.

Under the bill, school district officials could decide how to spend the money. The prescribed options include hiring law enforcement officers and making security enhancements to facilities, such as the installation of bulletproof glass.

“Each school district would be able to determine how best to make our schools safer,” Nelson said.

The bill does not mention the arming of teachers.

Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, said he does not expect the Senate education policy committee, which he chairs, to take up that issue “right away.” But Pratt said the option of teachers carrying guns already exists in Minnesota.

“Superintendents and principals can already, with written authorization, allow a permit holder to carry a weapon on school property,” Pratt said.

Democrats are also working on school security proposals.

Sen. Steve Cwodzinski, DFL-Eden Prairie, said he wants to put more counselors in schools and make sure classrooms doors can be locked from the inside during emergencies. But Cwodzinski, a retired teacher, said his former colleagues are not interested in carrying guns on the job.

“We don’t have enough time for training how to teach,” Cwodzinski said. “I can’t imagine teachers going through all the training necessary in order to know how to handle a firearm in a war-like situation.”

Story originally posted by Minnesota Public Radio. 


(Rochester) - State Senator Carla Nelson released the following statement after out-raising her primary opponent and being selected for the NRCC Young Guns program:

The Carla Nelson campaign is excited to announce out-raising her primary opponent by two-to-one. Receiving support from so many across the district, it is clear Carla's record of strong conservative leadership and delivering results is resonating with the people of Minnesota. Carla will be the candidate who can win in November and put this seat back into Republican hands. 

"We are proud to be recognized and selected for inclusion in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Gun program. It is a reflection of the tremendous support that this campaign has generated in just a few short months, reflected by the nearly $220,000 raised from over 500 donors, 95% of these donations coming from Minnesotans, and out-raising my opponent by more than two-to-one in her first quarter of the campaign." 


(Rochester) – State Senator Carla Nelson’s campaign announced today that it has raised $218,465.72 in her first three months as a candidate for Congress. Even more impressive is that 95% of the 500-plus donors came from the state of Minnesota. Carla’s record of strong conservative leadership and delivering results for the people of southern Minnesota is clearly resonating in this conservative district.  

“I am humbled and excited that our campaign is off to such a strong start, receiving the support of so many across the district and the state of Minnesota. I look forward to taking my message of strong leadership — of getting results — to the people of the first district,” said State Senator Carla Nelson. 

Letter: Honor veterans by upholding our commitments to them

Today, we honor the brave men and women who serve in our armed forces. Their commitment to defend our freedoms and way of life demonstrates the very best of our nation. Our service members place their duty to country before their interests. When they return home, it is then our sacred duty to show them the gratitude they deserve.

Although we can never repay our debt of gratitude to our veterans, we can honor their service by upholding our commitment to providing the care and services they have earned. During the last Minnesota legislative session, we honored our veterans and invested in them. The Minnesota Legislature increased the budget of the Department of Veterans Affairs with an emphasis on programs that directly affect veterans.

To prepare veterans for post-military service careers, we expanded on-the-job training and apprenticeships in the trades. In addition, we invested in college education opportunities for servicemen and women by funding tuition reimbursement. We focused on key initiatives for our most vulnerable veterans such as homelessness, assistance with the legal system and helping active-duty members deal with emergency expenses. We re-emphasized Minnesota's commitment to veterans' homes through funding increases for caretakers.

Read the entire article here.

Political Notebook: Nelson focuses on electability

As she seeks to win over Republicans in the 1st Congressional District, Sen. Carla Nelson is touting herself as the most electable candidate.

Nelson is competing with Blue Earth Republican Jim Hagedorn for the party's endorsement. Hagedorn narrowly lost to 1st District Rep. Tim Walz last year.

During an interview, Nelson said she will be making the case to fellow Republicans that she is the candidate best positioned to win the seat.

"It's a huge opportunity for the Republican party. It's not an opportunity we can afford to waste, and we need someone that we know can win in November. Someone that will do more than just talk about what's wrong with Washington, D.C.," the Rochester Republican said.

Referring to Hagedorn as a "perennial candidate," Nelson noted that the Blue Earth Republican has run unsuccessfully for the seat two times in a row. Last year, he lost the election despite Trump winning the district by 15 percentage points.

"I'm the candidate that has the experience. I have a proven record of winning elections in tough districts," she said.

Nelson said she is running for Congress because she is concerned about out-of-control spending and the inability of lawmakers to get things done.

"Now we're seeing the national debt ballooning to $20 billion, robbing our children's futures and probably our grandchildrens' futures," she said.

If elected, she said she would focus on passing pro-growth tax reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare and national security.

Nelson said she will seek to win the party's endorsement. She stopped short of saying she would abide by the endorsement process at this time, noting that Hagedorn said he would abide in 2014 but changed his mind after losing the endorsement to Aaron Miller. Hagedorn won the primary and lost to Walz in the general election.

"I will pledge to work for that endorsement just as I always have and always have abided by the endorsement. This is a peculiar situation because we have a perennial candidate who said he would abide by the endorsement and then he did not," she said.

State Rep. Nels Pierson Endorses Carla Nelson for Congress

(Rochester) – State Rep. Nels Pierson issued the following statement endorsing Carla Nelson for Congress in Minnesota's 1st District:

“I am proud to offer my endorsement to my state senator, mentor and friend Carla Nelson for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District. I’ve talked to many people in the 1st District about what type of leader we need in Washington representing us. We don’t need past failed candidates, or want political elites telling us who our candidate should be. We need a proven leader who knows how to get things done. Carla has a successful track record and experience winning tough elections. She will fight for pro-growth tax reform, affordable health care, and strengthening our national security and I look forward to supporting her in the upcoming election.”

Carla Nelson Releases Campaign Announcement Video

(Rochester) – State Senator Carla Nelson issued the following statement regarding the announcement of her candidacy for Minnesota’s 1st District congressional election.

“I will be running for Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District because it’s time we elect someone we know can win in November and put this seat into Republican hands. I have spent my career as a principled conservative, supporting Minnesota farmers, veterans, schools and small businesses; and fighting against higher taxes and regulations. We need real leaders in Washington who do more than just talk and with my proven track record and experience I know I can get things done and finally bring back real results for Minnesota.”





Nelson running for Congress

Sen. Carla Nelson is running for Congress, becoming the second Republican vying for the open 1st District seat.

Nelson made her announcement during a 10 a.m. press conference at Textile Care Services in Rochester. She stood on a stage with a giant American flag as the backdrop. She told the crowd of more than 100 that, "I will be stepping forward. I am running for Congress."

But Nelson told supporters they would schedule a "rah rah rally" for another day because of the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. She did not deliver her planned speech. Instead, the rally included a prayer for the victims of the shooting.

After her announcement, Nelson declined to answer questions from the press — including whether she would abide by the Republican endorsement.

The Rochester Republican's entry into the race sets up a showdown with Blue Earth Republican Jim Hagedorn for the party's support. Hagedorn is making his third straight bid for the seat after narrowly losing to 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz last year.

The open 1st District seat is expected to be one of the most watched races in the country. Walz announced in the spring he would not seek re-election to the seat and would instead run for governor. Walz managed to hold onto the seat last year despite Trump winning the district by more than 15 percentage points. Political experts see the southern Minnesota district as one of the best pickup opportunities for Republicans in the nation.

Meanwhile, Democrats are determined to keep the district blue. Eight candidates have already announced they are running for the seat.

Rep. Nels Pierson, R-Rochester, introduced Nelson to the stage. He confirmed he is not running for Congress and will instead support Nelson.

Nelson has a lengthy political history in Olmsted County. She was elected to the Minnesota Senate in 2010. Prior to that, she served one term in the Minnesota House beginning in 2003. A former teacher, she is the owner of Olmsted Financial Group.

When Nelson ran for re-election last year, she touted herself as being someone willing to work across the aisle to get things done. In a Post Bulletin candidate profile, she said the greatest challenge facing greater Minnesota is aging and a shrinking population.

"The solution is to grow and diversify greater Minnesota's economy. This requires both job retention and new job creation. Infrastructure — roads, bridges, high speed internet, terrific education, affordable reliable energy and a business-friendly tax and regulatory climate will help keep and grow jobs in greater Minnesota," she said.

As chairwoman of the Senate E-12 Finance Committee, she fought hard last legislative session to boost education spending. She also supported an effort to revamp the state's teacher licensure laws and has talked extensively about the need to tackle Minnesota's achievement gap between minority and white students.

Nelson has been known to buck her party on occasion. Last year, she was the only Republican to vote for a $1.5 billion statewide construction borrowing package. At the time, she said she voted for the measure because it included funding for several projects within her district.

"At the end of the day, I am elected to represent my constituents and I'm elected to work for them and that's what I do. So in this case, I just happen to be the only Republican voting for the bill," Nelson said.

If Nelson were to win her bid for the 1st District seat, it would have broader political ramifications. It would require a special election to fill her Senate seat, putting control of the Minnesota Senate up for grabs. Republicans have a razor-thin one seat majority in the Senate.

Hagedorn's reaction

Asked about Nelson's decision to get into the race, Hagedorn said he believes his campaign is well positioned to win the support of Republicans in the 1st District. He noted he has been endorsed by several key figures — including former 1st District Rep. Gil Gutknecht and 6th District Rep. Tom Emmer. He has rounded up endorsements from local GOP leaders across the district. He has also raised more than $300,000 so far for his campaign — more than any other non-incumbent Republican running for Congress.

"I like to say in farmer terms, we've been plowing a lot of political ground, planting a lot of seed and we're just starting to enjoy the harvest. I'd say that the work we've done and where we've put ourselves has been unifying the Republican party," Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn declined to promise to abide by the party's endorsement process. However, he said he will work hard to win that endorsement.

Hagedorn also emphasized that if elected, he will be a strong supporter of Trump's agenda.

"I think those positions I've taken reflect the views and values of the people of southern Minnesota," he said.

The 1st District Republican race just got more interesting.

The Rochester Post Bulletin’s Heather J. Carlson reports: “Sen. Carla Nelson is running for Congress, becoming the second Republican vying for the open 1st District seat. … Nelson made her announcement during a 10 a.m. press conference at Textile Care Services in Rochester. She stood on a stage with a giant American flag as the backdrop. She told the crowd of more than 100 that, ‘I will be stepping forward. I am running for Congress.’”

Sen. Carla Nelson to run for Congress

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) - Senator Carla Nelson (R - Rochester) is running for Congress.

Nelson made the official announcement Monday morning at a campaign rally held at Textile Care Services in Rochester.

The three-year senator cut the rally short due to the mass shooting in Las Vegas. "We need to think of the victims, the families, those who are healing, many injured in last night's violence," she said during her less than 10-minute speech.

Rep. Nels Pierson (R - Rochester) introduced Nelson as "his senator" while welcoming her onstage. Nelson thanked supporters for being there, but she said this was not a day for campaigning. She then invited her church pastor, John Steer of Autumn Ridge Church in Rochester, to say a prayer for the victims and families impacted by the deadly mass shooting.

The nearly 100 people in attendance bowed their heads in prayer, thinking of the lives lost less than 12 hours earlier. As of Monday at noon, at least 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured in the shooting at a country musical festival in Las Vegas. 

When the prayer concluded, Nelson spoke briefly before telling supporters she would see them in the coming days to have a "rah rah rally at a more appropriate" time. 

Nelson said she has many days to talk about her vision for Congress. Before exiting the stage, Nelson told the crowd she looked forward to seeing them on the campaign trail. "May God bless America, may God bless Minnesota. Thank you so much."

The senator is seeking to replace current U.S. Rep. Tim Walz for Minnesota's first Congressional district. Walz is leaving Congress to run for Minnesota governor. Walz narrowly beat Republican Jim Hagedorn in November 2016, winning the seat by less than 1% of the vote.

Nelson is the second Republican to enter the race. Jim Hagedorn of Blue Earth is also in the running.

State Sen. Carla Nelson enters GOP US House race

State Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, announced Monday she's running for Democratic Rep. Tim Walz's open U.S. House seat.

Nelson joins Blue Earth Republican Jim Hagedorn in the race. Hagedorn narrowly lost his bid to unseat Walz in 2016.

In recent years, Minnesota's First Congressional district has become increasingly competitive, with Republican and Democratic interests in Washington putting money behind races there. 

Nelson had planned a major announcement in Rochester, but truncated her prepared remarks in light of the mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas. 

In a statement, she said that "today is not a day for campaigning."

"I look forward to the days and weeks to come as my campaign gears up, but for now I hope everyone will continue to keep the victims, their families, and the first responders in their thoughts and prayers," she said.

Nelson was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 2010. Prior to that, she served one term in the House.

Walz is running for governor, and eight Democrats have already announced that they will run for his seat. 

They are Dan Feehan, Regina Mustafa, Johnny Akzam, Vicki Jensen, Colin Minehart, Bob Ries, Joe Sullivan and Rich Wright.