Editor’s note: This is one of occasional reports on the campaigns of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert isn’t apologizing for the parliamentary maneuver that got him booed at last month’s state party convention in Rochester.
In fact, he views his decision to abruptly leave the endorsement process as evidence of his standing as a nonconformist who talks straight and doesn’t pander to the party’s more conservative wings.
“I think Minnesota voters study the candidates,” he said in an interview this week. “They like mavericks, they like people who are out of the box.”
Seifert’s campaign has attracted some of the few outsiders who still participate in the official party process of caucuses and endorsement, such as supporters of former Gov. Arne Carlson.
He’s consulting with veterans of primary challenges, including former state Rep. Connie Doepke, a traditional Orono Republican who lost a 2012 state Senate primary to the more conservative David Osmek.
Seifert is aware that the Aug. 12 primary may draw only 200,000 voters, many of whom consider the party’s endorsement of Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson the stamp of approval.
To counter that, he’s courting voters in the state’s regional centers that lean Republican.
In the space of two weeks, he’s visited more than two dozen cities. This week, he’s calling on Alexandria, Brainerd, Crookston, Fergus Falls, Northfield, Owatonna, Red Wing and Winona to promote his campaign’s main theme.
“I think the main issue is [that] we’re one Minnesota, and in terms of my ticket, I tried to find the best-balanced — gender, geography, experience — ticket of everybody,” he said. Seifert is from Marshall; his running mate, Rep. Pam Myhra, is from Burnsville.
Not coincidentally, he’s visiting cities with daily newspapers and radio stations where Seifert can take advantage of free publicity.
By his own admission, Seifert, a former House minority leader, is constantly fundraising. Money is tight in the four-way race, where fellow candidates Scott Honour, Kurt Zellers and endorsee Jeff Johnson may have a fundraising edge.
But Seifert points to other well-funded candidates — including DFLer Matt Entenza and Republican Wheelock Whitney — who have lost primaries as proof that money is not the key to victory.
He’s hopeful that success for him comes from a combination of retail politics, an understanding of the primary voter, and an image of a politician willing to buck the establishment.