Primrose Park owner running for state senate

Updated: June 21, 2016 - 4:27 pm

Jennifer Carnahan could be first Republican elected in Minneapolis since ‘80s

Minneapolis hasn’t seen a Republican elected to state office since the 1980s.

Jennifer Carnahan, who calls herself a “unique” Republican, is planning on changing that by running for state Senate in District 59, which encompasses North and most of Downtown Minneapolis.

The last Republican to run here, in 2012, took less than 20 percent of the vote. But Carnahan said her different experiences make her stand out from people who have run in the past.

“I’m not the traditional, Caucasian, 50-year-old male,” she said. “I don’t want people to lump me in with what they assume being a Republican is.”

JenniferCarnahanAdopted from South Korea, Carnahan grew up in Maple Grove and received her Bachelor of Science degree from Syracuse University. After receiving her MBA from the Carlson School of Management she spent 15 years working in marketing for companies such as General Mills, Ecolab and McDonald’s Corporation.

Carnahan abandoned her corporate career and started Primrose Park, her Northeast women’s clothing boutique, in 2013.

Carnahan said her experience in marketing, brand management and strategy is really helpful to her campaign.

“Running a campaign is no different than launching a new product or brand,” she said.

Carnahan’s biggest priority is promoting economic opportunity in Minneapolis.

“Businesses need to be set up for success so they can operate and grow,” she said. “Expanding a business presence in Minneapolis will ultimately lead to more long term, sustainable job creation that will add to the vibrancy of the community over time.”

Carnahan also emphasized a focus on education, especially in North Minneapolis.

While the numbers are improving, students of color still graduate at a rate 30 percent lower than white students, according to Minneapolis Public Schools.

“This is a huge opportunity to give more educational opportunities for all students in the district, to strengthen programs and teacher education.” Carnahan said.

Carnahan officially begins her campaign at 6:30 p.m. today at Boom Island Brewing Company, 2014 N. Washington Ave.

Carnahan will face the District 59 incumbent, DFL Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, in November.