GOVERNORS OF MINNESOTA
Twenty-first State Governor
January 6, 1925 - January 6, 1931
Born: September 12, 1883
in Lac qui Parle Township, Minnesota
Died: December 10, 1948
in Dawson, Minnesota
Married to: Ruth E. Donaldson (1907)
Mayme Bialeschki Bundy Christianson (Shipley) (1946)
Ethnic Background: Norwegian
Occupation: Editor, publisher, writer, lawyer, legislator, congressman
"More Ted, Less Taxes" was the campaign promise of Theodore Christianson when he ran for governor in 1924. "Tightwad Ted," as he was affectionately dubbed, kept his word. During his administration, he limited taxes and cut expenditures at every level of state government. Voters—in a conservative mood after the turmoil of World War I—expressed their approval of his cautious fiscal policy and his disdain for "socialism" by re-electing him twice.
Efficiency was as crucial as thrift to Minnesota's twenty-first governor and he incorporated both priorities in his 1925 Reorganization Act. To firm up a flabby bureaucracy, he appointed a three-man Commission of Administration and Finance. This so-called Big Three unleashed the veto power of the chief executive, who slashed budget appropriations he considered extravagant.
Before entering politics, Christianson had pursued dual careers in western Minnesota, where he both practiced law and was for 15 years the editor and publisher of the Dawson Sentinel. Five consecutive terms as a Republican legislator convinced him that government reorganization was in order.
Christianson's bid for nomination to the U.S. Senate in 1930 failed and he left politics temporarily. During a three-year hiatus, the former newspaperman continued to serve his native state by writing its history, a five-volume work published in 1935 (Minnesota: The Land of Sky-Tinted Waters: A History of the State and its People). He rounded out his public career with two terms in Congress.
Later, Christianson moved to Chicago and an executive position with a national trade association. He had recently retired to Dawson when he died of a heart attack while trying to start his car on a winter night.