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Seifert may be first of many in race

ST. PAUL - Rep. Marty Seifert steps to the microphone late this morning in what many expect to be the first of many announcements related to Republican governor campaigns.

Seifert plans to step down as House Republican leader. It is likely that the Marshall lawmaker will tell reporters that he is exploring a gubernatorial bid, although he could formally announce his candidacy.

More announcements are expected as nearly 20 Republicans are thinking about jumping into the race now that Gov. Tim Pawlenty decided to skip running for a third term.

Names being discussed around the Capitol range from former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams to long-time House Speaker Steve Sviggum.

U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, a conservative spokeswoman on many national news shows these days, is being discussed, although her staff says he is not interested.

Also often mentioned is former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, now awaiting a state Supreme Court decision about whether his effort to be re-elected may be successful. Talk around the Capitol is that if the court rules against him, he could consider running for governor, which he did in 1998. He has not commented on the prospect.

Minnesota Democrats Exposed, a blog with deep ties to Republican insiders, today lists its top 18 potential GOP governor candidates: former State Auditor Pat Anderson, Bachmann, Rep. Laura Brod of New Prague, Rep. Matt Dean of Dellwood, Rep. Tom Emmer of Delano, Sen. Michelle Fischbach of Paynesville, Grams, Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie, former secretary of state and current Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake, Rep. Paul Kohls of Victoria, former Rep. Phil Krinkie of Shoreview, Sen. Geoff Michel of Edina, former U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad of Minnetonka, Seifert, Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem of Rochester, Twin Cities businessman Brian Sullivan, Labor and Industry Commissioner Sviggum and former Rep. Charlie Weaver.

When he announced on Tuesday that he would not run again, Pawlenty said he made his announcement early so candidates could get started.

Besides campaigning, potential candidates must raise money. Pawlenty spent $4 million in his 2006 re-election big, which may be the floor for a successful candidate in the 2010 race.

Pawlenty said he will work to get a Republican elected governor, but did not say who he might support.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.