Seifert ‘not afraid’ of a little competition

MARSHALL – Some candidates might have better name recognition. Some might have more money and more resources. But Marty Seifert, a farm kid who has been out of the political spotlight for three years, is hardly disconcerted by the field of Republicans eyeing the gubernatorial nomination.

“I think it’s a full field, but I don’t think there’s a candidate I am intimidated by whatsoever,” Seifert said. “It’s competition, and as a Republican I believe in competition. I’m not afraid of it. We all have to earn our keep and earn people’s votes.”

Seifert on Thursday officially joined the race, bringing the total number of candidates looking to oust Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton to six. The others are state Rep. Kurt Zellers, Hibbing teacher Rob Farnsworth, Orono businessman Scott Honour, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and Sen. Dave Thompson.

“I would say it’s an average number for a group of people seeking a nomination,” said Seifert. “When (Tim) Pawlenty was governor, the Democrats had a big field and had a three-way primary with Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Matt Entenza and Dayton.”

Seifert, who grew up on a small, family farm near Clements, has a little history on his side when it comes to rural legislators finding some success in the gubernatorial race. Kelliher, a fellow small-town politician (she was raised on a dairy farm in Blue Earth County), won the party’s endorsement that year when Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak dropped out after six convention ballots. She then lost a close primary election to Dayton.

Seifert is keeping an open mind in terms of running in a primary if he doesn’t receive the endorsement. He is aware he doesn’t have the finances some of the other candidates do but knows there’s more to running a successful campaign than spending lots of money.

“Entenza spent well over a million dollars in the (2010) primary and got 13 percent of the votes,” Seifert said. “It’s really about getting out there. Dayton drove to all 87 counties of Minnesota; of course, he had good name recognition, but I think I do, too.”

Seifert said he will run a “very, very aggressive campaign” and that a race with this kind of competition will benefit whoever survives the primary.

“I think competition is good,” he said. “You’ll have a better-quality candidate because we’ll all be sharpening our skills and will be polished. (With this many candidates) you’ll have to work very hard to earn the support of the people. If you’re just doing a layup and nobody’s in competition with you, sometimes candidates can get a little bit lackadaisical.”

Seifert hasn’t committed to ending his campaign if someone else is endorsed.