ST. PAUL - There are either a lot of highly qualified candidates, or … well, let’s just say a lot of rejection letters will be going out.

Some 500 people have applied for 23 commissioner positions as members of Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz’s cabinet.

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That’s nearly 22 resumes for every job - although it’s known that at least some people are applying for multiple cabinet posts.

It’s hard to say if that’s a “normal” stampede or not. Walz and Lt. Gov.-elect Peggy Flanagan’s transition website invites anyone to apply for all sorts of state jobs.

That’s quite a bit different from the last time a new governor set up his cabinet.

A different era

In 2010, Mark Dayton was in the throes of a statewide recount with Republican opponent Tom Emmer. Dayton was always ahead in votes, but he wasn’t given the keys to the Capitol until it was all official. So Dayton vetted much of his cabinet from the confines of his humble campaign headquarters in St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. Walz’s transition staff is humming along on the third floor of the Capitol.

And Dayton didn’t open the e-apply floodgates like Walz has, but often recruited specific people. Times were also different. Dayton took office in the midst of the Great Recession and the state was facing a looming budget shortfall. So he was recruiting Democrats to potentially cut government spending - as opposed to now, with Walz inheriting a predicted budget surplus.

How much does it pay?

Commissioners’ pay varies, generally between $120,000 and $150,000.

Under state law, the annual salary for most commissioners is capped at 133 percent of the governor’s salary, while some are capped at 120 percent of the governor’s pay, which is indexed to inflation.

In 2017, Dayton was paid $127,150. The 133-percent cap was $169,110. In recent years, none of Dayton’s commissioners have earned the max. There are other benefits, such as being eligible for the state employee pension plan, and former longtime lawmakers are often applicants for such gigs.

The downside is you got no job security. Commissioners, as well as numerous other positions, are considered political appointments. Walz can can you for no reason. This is different from the vast majority of the more-than 30,000 state jobs in all, most of which feature some level of civil service or union protections.

Are there other jobs?

The deadline for applying for commish gigs is past, but the incoming administration is accepting applications for other political appointments through Dec. 28. Your resume will be added to at least 1,000 others that have been received.

“We are thrilled so many Minnesotans are engaging in our hiring process,” Flanagan said in a statement about the application process. “We look forward to building an Administration that reflects the diverse talents, experiences, and perspectives that make up our great state.”

For the record, here are all 24 state departments the commissioners will head:

  • Administration
  • Agriculture
  • Commerce
  • Corrections
  • Education
  • Employment and Economic Development
  • Health
  • Higher Education
  • Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board
  • IT Services
  • Labor and Industry
  • Management and Budget
  • Bureau of Mediation Services
  • Metropolitan Council
  • Military Affairs
  • Natural Resources
  • Pollution Control
  • Public Safety
  • Revenue
  • Transportation
  • Veteran Affairs