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Arne Helge Carlson (born September 24, 1934) is an Americanmarker politician and former governor of the state of Minnesotamarker.

Born in New York Citymarker, the son of immigrants from Göteborgmarker, Sweden, he attended Choate Rosemary Hall and graduated from Williams College in 1957.

He 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 served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from January 1971 to January 4, 1979.

From 1965 to 1977, he was married to Barbara Carlson (who became known in her own right after their divorce). Together, they had a son, Tucker, (no relation to the MSNBC personality) and two daughters, Kristin (deceased) and Anne, who has two children, Allie and Drew Davis. Carlson's second wife was Joanne. They had no children. Carlson had a daughter, Jessica, with his third wife, Susan, who served as First Lady of Minnesota.

He was state auditor from January 4, 1979 to January 7, 1991. He served as the 37th Governor of Minnesota from January 7, 1991 to January 4, 1999.

He won election as a member of the Independent-Republican Party (The party, in September 1995, reverted to the name Republican Party); his positions were generally considered moderate. His election followed a scandal where the party-endorsed candidate, businessman Jon Grunseth, was accused of sexual improprieties with two then-underaged girls several years prior and withdrew from the race. Carlson had initially sought the nomination, which the more conservative Grunseth won; then Carlson and running mate Dyrstad launched a write-in campaign; as Grunseth's campaign disintegrated in the final weeks, Carlson became the Independent-Republican candidate. In the general election, he presented himself as a less polarizing leader in comparison to the incumbent governor, Rudy Perpich. Carlson managed to win by 3 percentage points.

In 1994, the party saw Carlson as too liberal to lead, and gave Allen Quist the party endorsement. However, his popularity still held with the population and he won the state primary. He then competed with John Marty in the General Election and won by a large margin with 63% over Marty's 34%.

During his terms in office, Carlson had two lieutenant governors: Joanell Dyrstad from 1991 1995, and Joanne Benson from 1995 1999.

Carlson was noted, as governor, for being a big fan of University of Minnesotamarker sports; his official portrait at the Minnesota State Capitolmarker shows him wearing a letter jacket for the school.

During a speech on October 23, 2008 at the Minnesota State Capitolmarker, he endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Electoral history

  • 1994 Race for Governor
    • Arne Carlson (I-R) (inc.), 63%
    • John Marty (DFL), 34%
  • 1990 Race for Governor
  • 1986 Race for state Auditor
    • Arne Carlson (I-R) (inc.)
    • John Dooley (DFL)
  • 1982 Race for state Auditor
  • 1978 Race for state Auditor
    • Arne Carlson (I-R)
    • Robert W. Mattson, Jr. (DFL) (inc.)


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