Republican Paul Gazelka names former Woodbury mayor as his running mate

Gazelka picked Mary Giuliani Stephens as his running mate in the GOP endorsement contests with weeks to go before the state convention.

Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens officially announced her run as a Republican for Minnesota Governor on Nov. 29, 2017. Maureen McMullen / Forum News Service
Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens officially announced her run as a Republican for Minnesota governor on Nov. 29, 2017.
Maureen McMullen / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — Republican gubernatorial hopeful Paul Gazelka has picked former Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens as his running mate in the GOP endorsing contest.

Stephens is an attorney and a former mayor who has previously launched unsuccessful bids for governor and the Minnesota Senate. Gazelka said Stephens would bring a record of effective leadership to their ticket.

"In a liberal city, she got big things done while never compromising her values, she shares our conservative vision for Minnesota's future," Gazelka said in a video announcing the pick on Friday, April 22. "Together we're going to take our state back."

Minnesota Republicans are set to endorse a candidate for governor next month at their state convention in Rochester. Historically, GOP candidates and delegates have stood by their endorsed candidates.

Gazelka is the second GOP candidate for governor to select a running mate ahead of the convention. Scott Jensen, a physician and former state senator, named Matt Birk , a former professional football player, as his pick for lieutenant governor in March.


The picks could help set the candidates apart as they attempt to win over delegates in May. Republicans Michelle Benson, Mike Murphy, Neil Shah, Kendall Qualls, Rich Stanek, Scott Magie and Bob Carney Jr. are also vying for the party endorsement.

Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party leaders and progressive groups in response to the announcement pointed to Stephens' prior support for proposals to drop tax rates for corporations and restrict access to abortion in the state.

"Minnesota can’t afford to elect a gubernatorial ticket that will fight for their ultra-wealthy friends at the expense of working families," DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said in a news release.

Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, has announced his bid for reelection in November and has not drawn a Democratic-Farmer-Labor opponent.

Third-party candidates James McCaskel, Cory Hepola and Hugh McTavish have also announced their bids for governor.

Several incumbent state legislators, particularly in the Senate, edged out competitors with more extreme views on COVID-19, election security and more.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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