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Seifert starts GOP governor campaign

Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall on Tuesday announces he is running for Minnesota governor. With him are his wife, Traci, and children Brittany, 6, and Braxton, 4. Don Davis/Minn. State Capitol Bureau

FRIDLEY, Minn. - Marty Seifert may have held the first, but many other Republican governor rallies will follow through election day, Nov. 2, 2010.

The Marshall state representative opened his official campaign for governor Tuesday, hosting about 100 supporters in a northern Twin Cities suburban factory, then leaving in a motorhome to visit 13 other cities in four days.

The economy and state finances were atop his mind.

"I view the deficit as an opportunity," Seifert said.

The next governor, who takes office in 2011, likely will face a budget shortfall of $4 billion to $6 billion, Seifert said.

He would use the opportunity to reduce state rules and other mandates placed on local governments. In theory, that should allow local governments to reduce their property tax collections.

Seifert said that a top priority should be reforming property taxes, and he would require local governments to hold a vote before increasing spending beyond a certain point.

Seifert, who resigned as House minority leader to run for governor, is the first Republican to hold a formal announcement. However, an onslaught of Republican candidates is expected in light of last month's announcement by Gov. Tim Pawlenty that he will not seek a third term.

On Monday, Rep. Tom Emmer of Delano said he would run for the office, saying: "We must turn the tide on the rapid growth of government. If our great state is ever going to return to the days of prosperity, the days when we attracted the best of the best, the most innovative and the most creative, we must fundamentally change our course."

Also running are state Sens. David Hann of Eden Prairie and Mike Jungbauer of East Bethel. Rep. Paul Kohls of Victoria and former Rep. Bill Haas of Camplin have announced, and several others are considering a run, including Reps. Morrie Lanning of Moorhead and Lora Brod of New Prague and former Reps. Steve Sviggum and Charlie Weaver, as well as former State Auditor Pat Anderson.

Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, who lost the governor's race to Jesse Ventura in 1998, also could get into the GOP race.

On the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite side, eight people have said they are running and more are known to be considering it.

For Republicans, a key date will be Sept. 26, when the party holds a rare non-election year convention. A straw poll of convention delegates is expected to thin the field.

Seifert is riding around Minnesota this week in a motorhome owned by former Rep. Jim Knoblach of St. Cloud, his campaign manager.

Seifert's former House colleague said he probably will spend a lot of time on the campaign, including doing the all-important fund raising.

"Money raising is going well," Knoblach said.

Seifert, 37, was accompanied at his Micro Control plant announcement by his wife, Traci, and their children, Brittany (6) and Braxton (4).

He promised to focus on jobs, and emphasized that his campaign began in a business because businesses create jobs.

"My mom and dad taught me a simple message in life, work hard and play by the rules," he said.

In prepared remarks he read, Seifert preached government efficiency, promising a smaller Cabinet and efforts to force governmental entities to work closer together.

Seifert also said he did not think his rural roots and home would hurt his candidacy, despite decades without a rural governor.

"I don't think they (voters) care about your Zip Code," he said.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.