March of the Governors #23: Hjalmar Petersen

March of the Governors #23: Hjalmar Petersen
Paul Nelson and Tyler Taylor

March of the Governors, Governor #23
Hjalmar Petersen
(Series Podcast #24)

Hjalmar Petersen (1890-1968) holds many distinctions as a governor of Minnesota: our only Dane, our only Hjalmar, our last immigrant (so far), our only governor from Askov (so far), and the one who served the shortest term (four months.) He served two terms in the legislature, one term as lieutenant governor, and eighteen years as a warehouse and railroad commissioner. He ran for governor four more times—three with the Farmer-Labor Party, one as a Republican. His political career began in 1930 and ended in 1967. He became governor in August 1936 upon the death of Floyd B. Olson. Passed over as Farmer-Labor candidate for governor in the primaries later that year, Petersen nurtured a grudge against the party for years to come. In 1938, he nearly upset Governor Elmer Benson in a primary. He tried again in 1942 and 1946. In 1956, he managed Estes Kefauver’s Minnesota presidential primary win over Adlai Stevenson. He served once more on the railroad and warehouse commission from 1955 to 1967.