Former state Rep. Marty Seifert today formally announced he’s running for governor.
The Marshall, Minn., Republican, a former state House minority leader, ran for governor in 2010 but lost the GOP endorsement to Tom Emmer, who eventually lost to Mark Dayton.
Seifert supporters have been pressing for him to run again. In late October, they organized a Seifert write-in vote for a Republican straw poll. Seifert placed third in that non-binding vote, showing that state Republican Party insiders viewed him as a viable candidate.
This morning, Seifert told supporters gathered at Marshall City Hall he was motivated to run again by things he described as “somewhat disturbing.”
He said he wants to reduce taxes, regulations and the size of state government. He proposed a halt to the Southwest light rail project to focus instead on roads and bridges. Seifert said he would prevent the release of any dangerous sex offenders. He’s also calling for big changes in public education, including expanded school choice options.
“The number one issue in this campaign is leadership, and we’re sorely lacking that in the state of Minnesota right now, and I’m here to offer that for people,” he said.
Seifert enters an already crowded field of candidates who’ve been campaigning and raising money for months. Seifert, though downplayed his later start.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone burning the track up so far,” he said. “I think there’s room for another candidate. Let’s be honest, campaigns are too long. I’m probably getting in early compared to what most people want.”
The other GOP candidates for governor are teacher Rob Farnsworth, businessman Scott Honour, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, state Sen. Dave Thompson and state Rep. Kurt Zellers.
Farnsworth has not held an elected office. Honour brings extensive personal resources. Johnson was the winner of the GOP straw poll, followed by Thompson. Zellers has been making noise recently about the sex offender issue that Seifert has now picked up.
Only Johnson and Thompson have pledged to abide by the party endorsement.
Seifert said he will again seek the GOP endorsement, but won’t drop out this time if he doesn’t get it.
“Marty Seifert certainly has a good chance to win the nomination. I doubt he’ll be able to win the endorsement,” said University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs.
Seifert might have the message and strategy that will mobilize business leaders and longtime party donors but party leaders are fearful of a bruising primary fight, Jacobs added.
Republican Rep. Dean Urdahl of Grove City, one of the lawmakers who stood with Seifert during his St. Paul event, said he’s not worried.
“Well, last time we got behind one candidate and that didn’t work out either. We don’t usually have hotly contested primaries in the Republican party. But this time we apparently will have one, and I guess history will judge how it works out.”