MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Conservative State Senator Dave Osmek announced Tuesday he is running for governor as a "Minnesota Values" candidate -- but he says he won't always be "Minnesota Nice."
The two-term lawmaker from Mound joins a growing number of candidates in the 2018 race.
In fact, it is one of the most crowded fields the state has seen in years.
"If you want a fighter to fight for your values, I'm your guy. I'm not going to play Minnesota Nice. I'm going to go to bat for those values," Osmek said. "I'm not going to be the ... person who the establishment's going to like."
He joins a field of at least nine Republicans running for Minnesota governor, 15 months before the election in November of 2018.
The number of Democrats is also growing. At least six DFLers have already announced they are in the race, and more are expected.
Political scientist Larry Jacobs says the field is so wide open in part because Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith are not seeking re-election.
"There is a political vacuum," Jacobs said.
It is shaping up to be a polarizing 2018.
"In Minnesota, we see that division between the metro area, which is a solid blue DFL, and much of greater Minnesota, which is becoming increasingly Republican-controlled," Jacob said.
President Donald Trump is the "X" factor in 2018. He won dozens of Minnesota counties, but the vast majority of votes were in a handful of Democratic counties.
Osmek says he will run the same type of outspoken campaign.
"Am I appealing to Trump voters? No. I'm appealing to every voter in Minnesota," Osmek said.
There are 15 candidates for office so far, and more candidates are expected -- and that's just for the governor's office.
Every constitutional office is up for election, Sen. Amy Klobuchar's seat and the Minnesota House.
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