Republican Michelle Benson suspends campaign for governor

Republican Michelle Benson said Friday she is suspending her campaign for governor.

Benson, a state senator from Ham Lake, said she was dropping out in a speech at the 7th District GOP convention. She said it was “time for Republicans to unite” behind a single candidate to defeat Democratic Gov. Tim Walz in November.

Her departure leaves state Sen. Paul Gazelka and former state Sen. Scott Jensen among leading candidates in a crowded Republican field. Jensen, a doctor running as a COVID-19 skeptic, led the field in recently announced fundraising.

Benson was first elected to the Senate in 2010. She said she won’t seek re-election.