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Republican Seifert running for governor, but not as a conservative purist

Marty Seifert is the sixth Republican to announce that he’s running for governor in 2014.

Seifert announced his campaign for governor joined by his wife Traci, daughter Brittany and son Braxton.
MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday

Marty Seifert, the sixth Republican to announce that he’s running for governor in 2014, holds his own on conservative principles. In response to questions at his formal announcement Thursday, the self-described “practicing Roman Catholic” reiterated his opposition to public funding for late-term abortion, gay marriage, and noted he actively opposed Obamacare as early as 2010.

But Seifert arouses suspicion among some of the GOP activists who will endorse a candidate next spring and who failed to endorse him when he ran for governor in 2010. He is not a purist and he is open to compromise.  

He indicated as much in elaborating on one of the proposals he offered as the cornerstone of his campaign. Seifert wants to stop “any attempt to release dangerous sex offenders into our community,” a response to the furor over a scheduled release of a sex offender that was halted by Gov. Mark Dayton.

When asked how he would accomplish that, he said: “It’s an excellent opportunity for bipartisanship. I’m going to work with [Attorney General] Lori Swanson, who agrees with me and I agree with her.”

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The 41-year-old former state House minority leader from Marshall was known as a budget-slasher during his 10 years at the Legislature.   According to Seifert, that budget legislation often passed with DFL votes.  “Sometimes it’s how you put things together and how you explain it,” he said.

Seifert made no promise that he would abide by the party endorsement and not go into a primary battle, but said he does intend to aggressively pursue the GOP endorsement.

Seifert said he believes that electability ultimately will determine who will win the Republican endorsement and primary. “They’re tired of losing statewide elections,” he said of Republicans, and that puts him in stronger position than the other GOP candidates: Jeff Johnson, Dave Thompson, Kurt Zellers, Rob Farnsworth and Scott Honour.

“I have a proven record of having the ability to get non-Republican votes,” he said. “For seven terms I was the top Republican vote-getter in my district.”

And he couldn’t have done that without bipartisan support, Seifert said, ending his formal remarks with “a message to the Republican Party: You cannot win the state of Minnesota unless you have non-Republicans vote for you. At some point we need to understand that we need to ask every Minnesotan to join our cause.”