Seifert shakes off shaky weekend

MARSHALL – Things didn’t go exactly as planned for GOP gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert at this weekend’s convention, but the former state representative from Marshall says he has refocused on what lies ahead: a competitive four-man race to a primary that will decide who will face off against DFL Gov. Mark Dayton in November.

Candidate Jeff Johnson, who serves on the Hennepin County Board, gained a fourth-ballot win at Saturday’s convention, and a primary lies ahead between him and Seifert, along with Kurt Zellers and Scott Honour, two candidates who skipped the convention.

“It’s full steam ahead,” Seifert said Sunday. “The headline in my mind is, ‘gubernatorial field narrows to four.’ The only question going into the convention was would it be narrowed down to three or four.”

Others, however, would print a different headline for what transpired Saturday.

Seifert ended up releasing his delegates after a long day and left the stage to boos, the Associated Press reported. The former House Minority Leader and Majority Whip maintains he has solid name recognition and touted during the weekend on social media that he is the only candidate with support in all 87 counties. He said any residual effects from Saturday will be fleeting.

“You have to remember, Dayton was physically locked out of and escorted away from his convention four years ago,” Seifert said, referring to the 2010 DFL convention that saw the endorsement of Margaret Anderson-Kelliher. “He was jeered and treated very poorly. So this isn’t unprecedented. I don’t know if I’ll be viewed as a maverick or not.”

Seifert called the absentee level at the convention stark. He said the decision to release his delegates came after a long day that began at 9 a.m. and didn’t see the first ballot cast until 4 p.m.

“We knew people would start heading out and that that was going to be a problem,” he said. “We were sitting on the floor, and in Lyon County we had a full delegation and others had empty chairs. A lot of my supporters took off because they were upset that (Senate hopeful) Chris Dahlberg lost. We ended up with an empty delegation in northern Minnesota.”

Seifert said it’s now off to northern Minnesota.

“I believe we have a fantastic opportunity to win,” he said. “We have very strong name ID and a very strong support network through all 87 counties.”

The GOP primary will take place Aug. 12.