Seifert in or out? Try wait and see

MARSHALL – Seifert for Governor? Hold off on clearing space in your yard for that campaign sign for the time being.

Although rumors have been swirling like prairie winds about Marty Seifert running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2014, the former House Minority Leader and Majority Whip said Tuesday his mind is not made up yet.

“I’m in the discernment process,” Seifert said Tuesday. “I’ve told people I will make up my mind and announce by Thanksgiving and I’m going to stick to that. I’ll make up my mind soon – either forge ahead or pull the plug. There has to be a pathway to victory or it’s not worth doing. Is there room for me? I think so.”

Seifert already has in place a strong inner circle and political support system, and it seems he even has momentum in his corner despite his on-the-fence status.

In a straw poll taken at the Minnesota Republican party’s state central committee Saturday, Seifert, as a write-in, polled ahead of declared candidates state Rep. Kurt Zellers (18 percent to 7.6 percent) and Hibbing teacher Rob Farnsworth (6 percent). Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson came out on top among the 409 delegates who cast votes with 35 percent, followed by Sen. Dave Thompson at 27 percent.

“I didn’t spend a penny, didn’t really do much of anything,” said Seifert. “No campaign committee, no signs up or anything. I sat calmly in my chair representing Lyon County, but a group of people pushed the envelope pretty heavily.”

Seifert said he was surprised at the results of the straw poll, but recalled 2010 when he polled ahead of Mark Dayton, a feat his challenger at the time, Tom Emmer, couldn’t duplicate. Emmer ended up using a strong metro-area surge to defeat Seifert that year.

“Generally, the lesson learned there is if someone focuses all their firepower on a few heavily-populated districts, you can make it work,” said Seifert, who added that he’s unsure if he would press on without the party endorsement. He filed that question under his discernment process.

Seifert, who served the House of Representatives in District 21A (now District 16A) from 1997-2010, listed his family and his current employment as his two main priorities but said he’s been able to find time to ponder his future. As the executive director of the Avera Marshall Foundation, he has had his hands full all year with the Building Hope Campaign to raise money for Avera’s new cancer institute.

“I’m not in the Legislature anymore and that dominated my time before, but I know I have to find ways to set aside time and make time to think about this,” he said. “Spending time with my wife and kids is important, and things like politics sometimes falls to the wayside. There might be some barbecue feed in Hibbing on a Sunday night that might have to get skipped so I can stay with my family. There are choices you have to make and you can’t do everything. Hopefully I can find a good balance if I were to do something like this.”

Seifert said that while there are myriad issues he would address on the campaign trail like education, the state budget and taxes, ultimately, he believes the state is lacking leadership at the Capitol.

“I think we’re lacking that in Minnesota right now,” he said. “It’s the number one thing our state needs right now and the number one thing our state lacks right now.”

Seifert said he considers the other GOP candidates who have already thrown their hat into the ring as friends and that any one of them would make a better governor than Dayton.

“My main concern is that government now is all one party that has lurched way too far to the left,” he said. “We need to bring a balance to state government.”