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Arne Helge Carlson

In office
January 7, 1991 – January 4, 1999
Lieutenant Joanell Dyrstad
Joanne E. Benson
Preceded by Rudy Perpich
Succeeded by Jesse Ventura

Born September 24, 1934 (1934-09-24) (age 75)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Independent-Republican / Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Barbara Duffy (divorced)
(2) Joanne Chabot (divorced)
(3) Susan Shepard
Profession Politician
Religion Protestant

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

Born in New York City, the son of immigrants from Göteborg, Sweden, he attended The Choate School (now 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, though he had switched his running mate to Joanne E. Benson, and gave Allen Quist and Doug McFarland 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 Minnesota sports; his official portrait at the Minnesota State Capitol shows him wearing a letter jacket for the school.

During a speech on October 23, 2008 at the Minnesota State Capitol, he endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.[1]

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.)


  1. ^ Kaszuba, Mike (2008-10-23). "Carlson endorses Obama, spurred by Bachmann remarks". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Rudy Perpich
Governor of Minnesota
1991 – 1999
Succeeded by
Jesse Ventura
Preceded by
Robert W. Mattson, Jr.
State Auditor of Minnesota
1979 – 1991
Succeeded by
Mark Dayton


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