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GOP straw poll for governor: Marty Seifert surprises everyone — including Seifert

Marty Seifert
MinnPost photo by Brian HallidayMarty Seifert

There was only one unknown in the gubernatorial straw ballot taken at the Minnesota Republican party’s state central committee Saturday in Blaine. How strong a showing would former state Rep. Marty Seifert make as a write-in candidate?

The answer was very strong, a result that seemed to surprise even Seifert himself.

Of the 409 delegates that cast votes, 35 percent voted for Hennepin County commissioner Jeff Johnson, 27 percent voted for state Sen. Dave Thompson, 18 percent voted for Seifert, 7.6 percent voted for state Rep. Kurt Zellers, 6 percent voted for Hibbing school teach Rob Farnsworth, and 4 percent voted for businessman Scott Honour.

Johnson, a national committeeman well known among this small group of activists, was expected to win. Both he and Thompson said they would abide by the endorsement process, so Thompson’s close second was also anticipated.  Honour and Zellers have said they will battle the endorsed candidate in a primary, a big factor in their poor showings.

But Seifert, a candidate for governor in 2010 who lost the Republican endorsement to Tom Emmer, was a write-in. There were no Seifert signs, no Seifert handlers. As a state central committee member, he sat quietly with his Marshall delegation, making no overt attempt to politic.  

“Certainly, I didn’t spend a penny; I don’t have a campaign committee,” he said shortly after the poll was taken.  “It’s very humbling, to be honest, and a bit surprising. I usually think of these things as an organized effort.”

By contrast, front-runner Johnson acknowledged, “I’ve been making calls to Republicans since I got in the race.”

Seifert still has friends and supporters in the inner circle of state GOP activists. And many of those supporters still maintain that had Seifert been the Republican nominee in 2010, he, not Mark Dayton, would be governor today.

Seifert said he would make a decision whether to enter the race by Thanksgiving. He gave a small hint as to where the scale was tipping, at least for now. 

“Is it too late for me?” he asked. “I don’t think so.”

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Comments (4)

Had Seifert been the candidate in 2010...

...the GOP might have held on to the Governor's seat. But they chose Emmer instead. The rest is history.

Endorsing process

A small number of elite Republicans who have no clue what people like myself think, endorse somebody who is out of touch with the voters, and then they think the rest of us should vote for them. They did this with Emmer, that was a fiasco. They should open up the endorsing process to anyone who wants to get involved. I can't continue to vote for the Republicans when they no longer think like me. Now they have Emmer running in the 6th District where I live and he is the leading the candidate and I can tell you now that if Dems put up a half way decent candidate the GOP will lose big time. I made my first switch when they put Emmer up against Dayton. In that case Dayton was the lousiest of the best and Emmer was the lousiest of the lousiest.

RE: Endorsing process

Mr. Kjer, the endorsing process is open to anyone that is willing to show up and put in the time whatever party they support. I started showing up a few years ago after complaining for years about not having a candidate worth supporting and have been able to have my voice heard in the endorsing processing, so don't complain about the process if you don't put in the effort to show up with your like-minded neighbors at the precinct caucus and run as a delegate. From my experience, many delegate positions are not filled in every precinct.

Even if the endorsements don't always go my way, I still get a vote in the process. It all starts on precinct caucus night. Get involved early! Parties are radicalized if only the radicals show up.

The answer

Primaries.