Seifert catches breath after kicking off campaign

MARSHALL – A tweet Wednesday by GOP gubernatorial hopeful Marty Seifert on his website made it clear that night was reserved for family. And the former House representative warned followers he would be “off the grid” during the Thanksgiving holiday.

But Seifert, one of six Republicans vying to unseat Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014, surely won’t be off that grid for long.

“We clicked on ‘Duck Dynasty’ and then put the campaign stuff out of our minds; it was refreshing to have that,” Seifert said of his mid-week agenda last week. “Wednesday was very relaxing after work.”

Seifert’s time away from the campaign trail came on the heels of a 13-city tour that launched his campaign. After announcing his plan to run in Marshall on Nov. 21, he headed out of town to Mankato and St. Paul. On Tuesday alone, he visited Worthington, Jackson, Fairmont, Blue Earth and Austin before wrapping up the day in Albert Lea.

Then he caught a flight to Duluth and also put in some time in Detroit Lakes.

“There were people in Detroit Lakes who weren’t there to listen to me listening to my speech as they were lunching away, and one table had a Democrat, Republican and Independent at it, and all three liked what they had heard from me,” Seifert said. “A crowd that’s all Republicans is one thing, but it was nice to talk to people who didn’t come to see me. I sense the dissatisfaction with Dayton is growing and that people think we can do better.”

Like Dayton did leading up to the 2010 general election, Seifert plans on visiting all 87 counties prior to the general election to spread his five-point plan of reducing the tax burden, identifying places to reduce spending, focusing transportation spending on roads and bridges, focusing on public safety and bolstering education. He calls the last week-plus a whirlwind and said he has received an “overwhelming response” to his five-point proposal.

“The one thing it does is get specific markers out there,” Seifert said. “We’re getting some specific ideas out there, and there hasn’t really been a lot of really hard specifics out there from the other candidates. We put a benchmark out there and will stick to the plan.”

Seifert, who later this month will be phased out of his job as executive director of the Avera Foundation, is the most recent Republican to announce his candidacy; his competition includes state Rep. Kurt Zellers, Hibbing teacher Rob Farnsworth, Orono businessman Scott Honour, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and Sen. Dave Thompson.

Seifert said he has a more positive vibe about this year’s campaign compared to his 2010 run, which came to an end at the hands of Tom Emmer.

“We certainly have an infrastructure in place from the last time,” he said. “We were at the Congressional District 4 Republican banquet in Maplewood last Friday evening (Nov. 22) after having flown around all day long and I was the only GOP candidate who showed up, so I had the audience to myself.”

The Seifert campaign also has a more pronounced social media presence than it did in 2010. That’s important, Seifert said, because he is admittedly behind in fundraising compared to the other candidates.

“Fundraising is going to have to step up,” he said.

Seifert said while he plans on visiting every county in the state, he’s zeroing in on counties that are considered regional centers while also making stops in smaller communities along the way.

“I’m a small-town guy, so I want to make sure we get everywhere,” he said, “whether it’s Minneapolis and St. Paul or towns the size I grew up in. The challenge is to see how much time I have to put into different areas.”