Coleman not running for governorThe Republican who could raise more money than any other and who has a ready-made statewide campaign organization is not running for governor.
By: By Don Davis, State Capitol Bureau, Alexandria Echo Press
ST. PAUL – The Republican who could raise more money than any other and who has a ready-made statewide campaign organization is not running for governor.
Former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman announced Sunday night that he will sit out the 2010 race, leaving seven candidates in the GOP column.
“I love Minnesota and I love public service, but this is not the right time for me and my family,” Coleman said in a Sunday night statement.
Coleman, in a statement given to KSTP television’s Tom Hauser, thanked those who urged him to run, but “I’ve learned there are lots of ways to serve without an official position.”
He indicated he will remain involved in public policy issues.
“I think I can be part of recreating a more civil and respectful politics, a politics that better expresses the will of the vast majority of people,” Coleman said. “I will continue my efforts to work with Republicans, independents and moderate, common sense Democrats across the country to advance the values of fiscal responsibility, entrepreneurship, effective government change, national security and respect for life. That’s where America is philosophically and we need well-thought-out policies that express it.”
The ex-senator said the timing for a gubernatorial run was both “a bit too soon and a bit too late.”
It was too soon because it was only the end of June when the state Supreme Court handed him a 312-vote loss to Al Franken in a heated U.S. Senate campaign. It was too late because other candidates already have talked to Republican activists about gaining support in the February 2 precinct caucuses, the first step in picking governor candidates.
An April Minneapolis convention will endorse a GOP governor candidate.
With Coleman out, state Representative Marty Seifert of Marshall is the front-runner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. After Coleman’s announcement, Seifert wished the former senator well.
“Norm Coleman has served the people of Minnesota with great distinction for over three decades,” Seifert said. “Our state is stronger because of Norm’s selfless dedication to public service. It is clear that Norm will continue to make great contributions to Minnesota and the country with his new endeavor.”
Seifert won a straw poll at an October Republican convention, a convention that featured Coleman working delegates in the hallway, but not in the convention hall itself.
Speculation increased last week that Coleman would get into the race because Pat Anderson, widely thought to be the candidate with the third strongest support, dropped out, opting to try to regain her old state auditor job instead. Anderson said that part of the reason she dropped out was because the 60-year-old Coleman likely would run.
Coleman issued a statement after Anderson’s decision that fueled speculation. “In the near future, my decision about which path I intend to pursue to help Minnesota and its citizens address our state’s challenges and opportunities will become clear,” Coleman wrote last week. “But, it’s clear that we must find common ground among Democrats, Republicans and independents on the great issues of our day.”
Anderson said last week that picking up delegates was difficult because many Republican activists were waiting for a Coleman decision. Another problem for Anderson was that many Republicans were waiting to see what Coleman would do before donating to another candidate in the race.
Political observers debated Coleman’s potential entry into the race, saying on one hand that he had great support from Republicans who thought he should have won re-election to his Senate seat.
Others, however, pointed to polls that showed many voters did not like him because he fought so hard to keep the Senate job, eventually going to court over Franken’s victory.
Coleman, married with two children, was an assistant Minnesota attorney general and a two-term St. Paul mayor. He ran for governor in 1998, losing to professional wrestler Jesse Ventura.