Arne Carlson

Arne Helge Carlson (born September 24, 1934) is an American politician who served as the 37th Governor of Minnesota.

Arne Carlson
37th Governor of Minnesota
In office
January 7, 1991  January 4, 1999
LieutenantJoanell Dyrstad
Joanne Benson
Preceded byRudy Perpich
Succeeded byJesse Ventura
14th Auditor of Minnesota
In office
January 4, 1979  January 7, 1991
GovernorAl Quie
Rudy Perpich
Preceded byBob Mattson
Succeeded byMark Dayton
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 58B district
In office
January 2, 1973  January 2, 1979
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byTodd Otis
Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives
from the 36th district
In office
January 5, 1971  January 1, 1973
Preceded byThor Anderson
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Arne Helge Carlson

(1934-09-24) September 24, 1934
New York City, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
  • Barbara Duffy
    (m. 1965; div. 1977)
  • Joanne Chabot (divorced)
  • Susan Shepard
Alma mater

Early years, education and family

Born in New York City, the son of Swedish immigrants from Gothenburg (father) and Visby (mother), Carlson attended New York City public schools P.S. 36[1] and DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx before gaining a scholarship to attend The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut.[2] He graduated from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, in 1957. He later attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.[3]

Carlson was married to Barbara Carlson (née Duffy) from 1965 to 1977. After their divorce she became known in her own right as a Minneapolis City Councilwoman and a talk show personality. Together, they had a son, Tucker (no relation to the media personality), and two daughters, Kristin (deceased) and Anne, who has two children, Drew and Allie Davis. Carlson's second wife was Joanne Chabot. They had no children. After their divorce, he married Susan Shepard, with whom he has a daughter, Jessica. Susan served as First Lady of Minnesota from 1991 to 1999.

Political career

Minneapolis city council, Minnesota House, state auditor

Carlson served one term on the Minneapolis City Council from 1965 to 1967, and was the Republican candidate for mayor in 1967, losing to Democratic-Farmer-Labor incumbent Arthur Naftalin. He was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from January 1971 to January 4, 1979. In 1978, he ran for and was elected state auditor. He was reelected in 1982 and 1986, serving in that position from January 4, 1979 to January 7, 1991. As State Auditor, Carlson worked to create uniform accounting for cities, counties, townships, and special districts, making Minnesota a leader in uniform accounting. He also overhauled the State’s multi-billion dollar pension investment portfolio to allow private sector management, which significantly improved the rate of return.

Gubernatorial campaigns and service as governor

Carlson was elected the 37th governor of Minnesota in the November 1990 general election, and served from January 7, 1991, to January 4, 1999. He won as a member of the Independent-Republican Party. In September 1995, the party changed its name to, simply, the "Republican Party."

A scandal arose in the 1990 election after the initial Republican nominee, businessman Jon Grunseth, beat Carlson in the primary. On October 15, it was revealed that, in 1981, Grunseth had invited three then-teenaged friends of his stepdaughter, as well as his stepdaughter herself, to go skinny-dipping in the pool at his home.[4][5]

A bipartisan group, Minnesotans for the ''WRITE'' Choice, launched a statewide write-in media campaign six weeks before the general election, when the allegations of impropriety first surfaced. The campaign group focused media attention on Carlson's candidacy and Grunseth's problems.

Carlson had come in second in the primary to the more conservative Grunseth, and thus became the Republican nominee when Grunseth dropped out.[4][6][7] Five days before the election, the state Supreme Court ruled that Carlson was eligible to appear on the ballot.[8]

Generally considered a moderate, Carlson presented himself as a less polarizing leader than the incumbent governor, Rudy Perpich. He won the general election by 3 percentage points.

During his administration, Carlson worked to solve an inherited $2 billion state budget deficit. By the end of his term, the state had surpluses of $2.3 billion in FY1997 and $1.9 billion in FY1998. His administration restored the AAA bond rating from all three Wall Street major bond houses and was the first such state to receive the upgrade in 25 years.

Carlson increased funding for elementary and secondary education by 9 percent, created a top level Children’s Cabinet to develop a single integrated agenda and budget for all state children’s programs and initiatives, laid the groundwork for the first light rail in Minneapolis with state and federal funding of $160 million and was successful in getting school choice funded which was hailed by the "Wall Street Journal" as a model for the rest of the country.

Other accomplishments during his eight years in office included: spearheading a 35 percent reduction in employer workers’ compensation costs, developing comprehensive health care reform legislation [termed Minnesota Care] to control costs and provide health care access to all Minnesotans, and proposed and signed the nation’s most comprehensive wetlands protection bill.

In 1993, Carlson served as Chairman of the Midwestern Governors Association. That same year he signed into law the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which banned LGBT discrimination in housing, employment, and education.[9]

In 1994, the delegates to the Minnesota Republican Party State Convention viewed Carlson as too liberal, and endorsed instead Allen Quist and Doug McFarland. Carlson and running mate Joanne E. Benson nevertheless won the September state primary, and won the November general election by a large margin, 63% to 34%, over Democratic candidate John Marty.

As governor, Carlson was well known for being a big fan of the University of Minnesota and its sports teams; his official portrait in the Minnesota State Capitol shows him wearing a letter jacket from the school. Carlson also worked closely with the President of the University of Minnesota, Mark Yudof, in improving the University's physical plant and in 1998, proposed and secured passage of an historic capital improvement package for all higher education with $206 million earmarked for the University of Minnesota. That led to projects ranging from building a molecular and cellular Biology Center to major renovations and upgrades to Walter Library.

In a July 2001 poll on Minnesota politicians who have made the most significant contributions to the state, Carlson ranked third behind Former Vice Presidents Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale.

Politically active retirement

Carlson has remained politically active in retirement. Since 2011, he has commented on issues of the day in a blog at Arne Carlson blog. In a speech at the state capitol on October 23, 2008, he endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.[10] In 2010, he announced that he would embark on a "Paul Revere" tour of Minnesota to bring attention to fiscal problems facing the state.[11] In 2010, he again broke with his party to endorse Independence Party candidate Tom Horner in Minnesota's gubernatorial race[12] and Tim Walz for Congress.[13] In a narrow vote by the state Republican central committee, Carlson and 17 others were banned for 2 years from participating in party events, described by Politico as a "stunning purge."[14]

Following the July 1, 2011, shutdown of the state government after Governor Mark Dayton and state legislative leaders could not agree on a budget, Carlson teamed with Walter Mondale and several other prominent political and business leaders to propose a nonpartisan budget commission.[15]

Carlson and Mondale also teamed to oppose a Voter ID amendment to the state constitution in the 2012 election.[16] The amendment was defeated.

Carlson is a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One.[17]

In a June 2016 interview with City Pages, Carlson endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.[18] In 2018, he also endorsed Dean Phillips, the DFL candidate for Minnesota's 3rd congressional district over GOP incumbent Erik Paulsen.

Electoral history


  1. "PS 36 Unionport - Homepage". January 29, 2016. Archived from the original on January 29, 2016.
  2. "An Alternative to Public Schools When They Go Bad". New York Daily News. September 12, 1997.
  3. root. "Arne Helge Carlson". Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  4. "Republican Quits Minnesota Governor's Race". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. October 29, 1990.
  5. 20 years ago: A three-week political roller coaster | Minnesota Public Radio News. (November 5, 2010). Retrieved on 2016-02-14.
  6. "Minn. nominee quits gov's race". USA Today. October 29, 1990. Archived from the original on March 30, 2009.
  7. Gilbert, Curtis (November 5, 2010). "Recent race tame compared to 1990 gubernatorial contest". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
  9. Preston, Joshua. "Allan Spear and the Minnesota Human Rights Act." Minnesota History 65 (2016): 76-87.
  10. Kaszuba, Mike (October 23, 2008). "Carlson endorses Obama, spurred by Bachmann remarks". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on October 28, 2008. Retrieved October 25, 2008.
  11. Gov. Arne Carlson on Paul Revere tour. (June 2, 2010). Retrieved on 2016-02-14.
  12. Arne Carlson endorses Tom Horner for governor Archived September 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. MinnPost. Retrieved on February 14, 2016.
  13. Tom Scheck (October 25, 2010). "Arne Carlson backs Walz". Minnesota Public Radio. Archived from the original on October 26, 2010. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  14. Hohmann, James (December 11, 2010). "Minnesota GOP brings out the knives for moderates".
  15. Rachel Weiner (July 5, 2011). "Walter Mondale to help end Minnesota shutdown". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
  16. ‘Teammates’ Walter Mondale and Arne Carlson find common ground on causes Archived August 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. MinnPost. Retrieved on February 14, 2016.
  17. "ReFormers Caucus - Issue One".
  18. Mullen, Mike (June 15, 2016). "Why former Gov. Arne Carlson, Republican, is voting for Hillary Clinton". City Pages. Archived from the original on June 18, 2016. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
Political offices
Preceded by
Bob Mattson
Auditor of Minnesota
Succeeded by
Mark Dayton
Preceded by
Rudy Perpich
Governor of Minnesota
Succeeded by
Jesse Ventura
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jon Grunseth
Republican nominee for Governor of Minnesota
1990, 1994
Succeeded by
Norm Coleman
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.