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Former Governor Elmer Benson Dead

March 14, 1985

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Elmer A. Benson, governor of Minnesota in the 1930s who was defeated in a re-election bid by Harold Stassen, died Wednesday night. He was 89.

Benson - who lived most of his life in Appleton, where he was a banker - died at Mt. Sinai Hospital, said his grandson, Edward Benson.

Benson ran for governor under the old Farmer-Labor Party in 1936 and held the post for only one 2-year term. In 1938, he was defeated by Stassen, a Republican and later perennial presidential candidate.

In the years that followed, Benson lost two other statewide contests, headed Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party and abandoned in disgust the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party he helped create by merging Farmer-Laborites with Democrats.

Although the 1937 Legislature gave Benson little of what he sought, many of his proposals became law during the 40 years that followed - property tax relief for homesteads; higher income tax rates for high-income individuals and corporations; mandatory workers’ compensation coverage for employees; a state civil service system; expanded state aid for schools, financed by income taxes; party designation for legislators.

In a 1983 interview with the Minneapolis Tribune, Benson said he wanted to be remembered as an unreconstructed radical.

″I can’t imagine anyone changing his philosophy. ... I never have,″ he said.

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