When I first saw Jeff Johnson, Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota in 2018, these two words came to my mind – Courteous & Nice! Yes, Minnesota Nice! No, he did not have the flamboyance of President Trump (though from the same party) or spell binding oratory skills or intriguing personas of renowned personalities but what struck me most was he sounded honest. An honest politician? The perfect example of an oxymoron!
The ‘Meet and Greet with Jeff Johnson’ was hosted by my jovial friends Johnson Madamu and his amazing wife Vishali – the most warm and good natured couple I have ever met. Their house always exudes an aura of abundance and cheer.
I mostly try to be apolitical but last Sunday I jumped over the chance of closely observing a politician at the meet. I’ve had a chance to observe many politicians while in India ( I am a former journalist) but in the US, this was my first occasion. I’m glad I went because it was an informative and memorable event.
It was a pleasant day and the aroma of mouth watering Indian delicacies filled the backyard of our generous hosts. Vishali was making sure everyone felt at home. Here and there people stood in groups waiting for Jeff.
He arrived with his wife, Sondi Johnson and running mate Donna Bergstrom ( If elected, will be the first Native American lieutenant governor). Affable and friendly, he mixed with the crowd without any airs. There was a substantial number of persons from Indian community, all waiting to know his take on immigration, school system and several other topics of their concern.
In his welcome speech, our genial host, Johnson Madamu, thanked Jeff for coming over and underscored the politician respects and values people from all races. His presence at his house was a perfect example of his respect for Indians as well as all communities. He also talked about Jeff’s support of legal immigration. Johnson Madamu’s sincere and jolly words made everyone feel settled and ready for more.
I watched intently when Jeff Johnson took the mike. He thanked the host stating that they had struck friendship recently at the state fair. Sans glamour or sugar coating, he stated plain truth backed by facts – Minnesotans are looking for a change and he has a different vision to bring about that change. He stated that he has met tens and thousands of people from different walks of life – women, child care providers, farmers, laborers, small business owners – all demanding change.
He also talked about the unprecedented enthusiasm of the public regarding the upcoming elections in November, where he would fight against leading Democrat candidate Tim Walz. He looked hopeful regarding his win.
Amidst other questions, the question on immigration was raised. To which he replied that he does not want Minnesota to be safe haven for illegal immigrants otherwise legal immigrants are welcome here. He also explained that most people in America are immigrants and his forefathers were from Norway.
Jeff also stated that his style is different from President Trump, because they have different approaches, may be because he is from North Minnesota. He agreed that some people will not vote for him because of President Trump and some may vote for him because of President Trump, but people should consider him as a different individual. The session ended nicely after great many rounds of questions and answers.
I have not seen or met his opponent Tim Walz and do not know what his ideologies are. Before Sunday, I did not have any idea about Jeff too but after observing him, I feel goodness can come a long way too. How further he’ll go? I do not know. All I know is Jeff Johnson looked like a man of integrity.
I can only wish the best for Minnesota. May the best man win!