Jeff Johnson to retire from politics at the end of term

November 13, 2018

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, having endured two statewide defeats for governor, said he is retiring from elected politics and the County Board at the end of his term in 2020.

“I don’t see myself running for anything else,” he said Monday. “I just think it’s time to give someone else an opportunity to change things.”

Johnson, the Republican-endorsed candidate, lost to governor-elect Timothy J. Walz, a Democrat from Mankato, in last week’s election.

In a campaign e-mail sent late last week with the subject line “My last campaign e-mail to you — I promise,” Johnson expressed his thanks, the feeling of defeat (“Losing stinks,” he wrote), and apologized for yet another loss at the job he coveted the most. He previously ran in 2014, losing to Gov. Mark Dayton.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t make it happen on Tuesday,” he wrote.

In a phone interview Monday afternoon, Johnson didn’t know what he would do in the next phase of his life. He could go back to practicing law, or work as a government or communication relations for an organization he “believes” in.

“There’s time to think about it,” he added.

In the meantime, the former state representative says his final months on the County Board will be dedicated to the taxpayers.

“There’s some public safety issues I want to work on and now we have a new sheriff I’ll need to build a relationship with him,” he said.

Johnson, 51, had hinted years ago at an early retirement from office.

When he sought his third term for the County Board in 2015, Johnson wrote on Facebook that he “decided to run for re-election next year and seek one final term on the Hennepin County Board.”

“It’s been an honor to serve the residents of northwest Hennepin County and I’m hopeful to do that for one more term,” he added.

And in last week’s e-mail, Johnson ended his message looking toward the future.

“I’m heading back to my county office downtown today and will pick up the fight for the taxpayers of Hennepin for the rest of my term,” Johnson wrote. “And then it’s time to move on from politics to something new. Not sure what God has in his plan, but I’ll follow — and it’ll be awesome.”

Karen Zamora • 612-673-4647

Twitter: @KarenAnelZamora

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