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Latest fundraising email prompts speculation about Chris Coleman political plans

As soon as the Chris Coleman email went out, speculation started. Is this it? Is he running for governor?

Mayor Coleman
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman

The email announces a Dec. 17 fundraiser for Coleman at Mancini’s — $50 to $100 contributions welcome — and comes two years before Coleman will (most believe) attempt to defend his middleweight title as mayor of St. Paul in 2009.

The timing led some to wonder if he was going to step into a loftier ring. Challenge Gov. Pawlenty in 2010, maybe? (Or will Pawlenty himself have been elevated to a higher plane? Like Air Force 2?)

Long before his mayoral win, Coleman did seriously seek the DFL nomination for the 4th District congressional seat in 2000; Betty McCollum got the party nod, and then won the House seat, which as we’ve seen in the past, can evolve into a lifetime sinecure.

Coleman has been dogged by some, including the cheeky saintpaulicy blog, for traveling around the state in apparent hopes of raising his profile. An earlier mayor named Coleman was good at that too, and look where that led.

Not that Chris Coleman (or any savvy politician) would ever admit at this early date that he’s got an eye on that Summit Avenue mansion or some other lofty position, but for the record, we asked.

“I’m running for president in 2012,” Coleman told me Tuesday night. “And I want you to be my press secretary.”

He was kidding. Or maybe he’s really working on a stand-up act.

But really: “This fundraising event is for the mayoral race,” he said. “I’m focusing on St. Paul. All St. Paul, all the time.”

This isn’t the first fundraiser to replenish his mayoral war chest since the 2005 election. There’s a St. Patrick’s Day event every year and an annual backyard barbecue, and there was a recent business fundraiser.

So that doesn’t give us much new insight for mayoral crystal-ball-gazing. As for other mayoral candidates — people Coleman might need all this money to battle: Jerry Trooien told me just before Thanksgiving that he won’t run for mayor. And the rumors about Bill Finney planning to run are, so far, unfounded —or at least unconfirmed.

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