Background & Family
Jeff was born and raised in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota by wonderful, hard-working parents. His father still calls Detroit Lakes home, as does his sister and her family. Jeff graduated from Detroit Lakes High School in 1985, Concordia College in Moorhead in 1989 and Georgetown Law School in Washington, D.C. in 1992.
Jeff met the love of his life, Sondi, at Concordia and they have been married for 24 years. They have two boys, Thor (19) and Rolf (15), and they reside in Plymouth with their bulldog Chester (7).
The Johnson Family (Thor, Rolf, Jeff, and Sondi)
Career & Leadership
After graduating from Georgetown, Jeff worked for firms in Chicago and Minneapolis before starting at Cargill, Inc. where he handled employment and labor law matters. In 2001, he left Cargill and started his own small business, Midwest Employment Resources, which provides human resources training and workplace investigations.
From 2000 to 2006 Jeff served in the Minnesota House of Representatives, where he was elected Assistant Minority Leader by his colleagues. In the House, he fought for conservative principles and was the chief sponsor of several successful bills to limit government power, cut taxes, and combat the methamphetamine epidemic that was gripping the state.
In 2011, Jeff was elected by Republicans in Minnesota to represent them at the Republican National Committee. In 2014 he was Minnesota’s Republican nominee for Governor. While falling just short of defeating incumbent Governor Mark Dayton, he raised more money than Dayton in 2014 and won independent voters by 10%.
In the 2016 Republican primary, Jeff served as Marco Rubio’s State Chair in his winning caucus effort, and following Rubio’s exit from the race served as Minnesota Co-chair for Sen. Ted Cruz.
As a firm believer in term limits, Jeff is currently serving his final term as a Hennepin County Commissioner. Hennepin County is one of the largest counties in the country and Jeff is one of seven commissioners who oversee a nearly $2 billion annual budget. As the most conservative voice on the board, he is sometimes in a minority of one and is always engaged in the fight for fiscal sanity and responsibility, increased government accountability and requiring that county programs actually produce measurable results.
Community & Values
Both Jeff’s faith and commitment to volunteering in his community have been a critical part of his life. He has tutored in homeless shelters in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Minneapolis and coached youth football, baseball and soccer (16 teams in all over a 12-year period).
He has taught Sunday School and confirmation, led small group Bible studies and been active in his church’s music program.
Jeff has also served on many volunteer community boards and organizations including Young Life, Plymouth Christian Youth Center and Concordia’s Alumni Board.