Primary Election Day: How we got to this point

Before we move on to Phase 2 of the governor’s race, let’s take time to consider all that has unfolded in Phase 1, which should end sometime tonight (provided there is no recount).

To date, this has been a campaign that has invoked God, involved Sarah Palin, included nearly two-dozen formal “I’m running for governor” announcements, which typically were followed a few months later by subdued “I’m ending my campaign” speeches.

It’s a race in which such party stalwarts as U.S. Rep. Tim Walz was courted by some DFLers  and former U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad was courted by some Republicans to run. Both declined.

Such well-known Republicans as Laura Brod, Norm Coleman, Brian Sullivan, Steve Sviggum and Charlie Weaver also decided against running.   

But there were so many others — in all three major parties — who were ready to answer the call that sometimes only they heard.

So cue up the music (something like Barbra Streisand’s “Memories” would be nice) and recall the race as it’s been.

(Disclaimer: Sometimes it’s difficult to ascertain when candidates “formally” announced they were running for office and when they were simply exploring the opportunity. So, apologies to any candidate who was overlooked or feels wronged.)

MinnPost photo by Corey Anderson

Here’s a Minnesota political timeline leading up to today’s voting:


April 13 — State Sen. John Marty, a DFLer who was beaten badly in his first bid for governor in 1994, announces that he’s ready to run again.

April 23 — Former state Rep. Matt Entenza announces he will seek the DFL nomination

June 2 — Two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty announces he will not seek a third term.

June 3 — House Minority Leader Marty Seifert announces that he’s stepping down from his leadership position to explore a run for governor on the Republican ticket.  Shortly after that, he stops exploring and announces he’s a candidate.

June 7 — Sen. Tom Bakk, DFLer, union man and head of the powerful Senate Tax Committee, announces he will run for governor and starts growing his hair a little longer.

June 18 — Sen. Paul Kohls, a Republican from Victoria, announces that he has both a conservative budget plan and the desire to succeed Pawlenty.

July 1 — Republican Sen. Michael Jungbauer announces that “God has opened a door’’ and that he’s ready to step through it and run for governor. 

July 6 — A little-known Republican state rep from Delano, Tom Emmer, says he’s ready to move to the governor’s office.

July 15 – Former State Auditor Pat Anderson, a Republican with a libertarian streak, announces she’s running for governor.

July 16 — A state senator from Eden Prairie, David Hann, believes he has what it takes to be the state’s next Republican governor.

July 24 — A relative unknown DFL state rep, Paul Thissen of Minneapolis, tosses his hat in the governor’s ring.

Sept. 8 — Rep. Tom Rukavina announces he’ll run for governor, bringing along a bundle of Iron Range humor and passion. 

Sept. 16 — House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher announces that she’s officially in the race.

Oct. 2 — Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, who started exploring the possibility of running  in 2007,  announces that she’s  running  for governor, promising a new middle road for DFLers.

Oct. 3 — Seifert handily wins a straw poll at a Republican convention, picking up 37 percent of the vote to Emmer’s 23 percent. Pawlenty notes that straw polls can be misleading. He once had finished second — to Brian Sullivan — in a straw poll prior to the endorsing convention of 2002.

Oct. 9 – St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman surprises political watchers by deciding not to run for governor.

Oct. 19 — Former state legislator Steve Kelley announces that he’ll seek the DFL nomination. He believes he has mapped out a strategy of success through the suburbs. 

Oct. 29 — Though he says he believes he’s the best man for the job, Kohls admits he can’t find many who agree with him and drops out of the race.

Nov. 5 — Just two days after being elected to his third term as mayor of Minneapolis, DFLer R.T. Rybak announces he’s running for governor.

Nov. 12 — The door closes on Jungbauer. He withdraws from the race.

All candidates and would-be candidates take a break from announcements during the holidays.


Jan. 12 — Anderson drops her gubernatorial bid and jumps into the race for the job she once had, state auditor.

Jan. 14 — Rob Hahn, a small businessman from St. Paul, announces he’s running for governor on the Independence Party ticket.

Jan. 18 — Former Sen. Norm Coleman makes it official. He will NOT run.

Jan. 20 — Former Sen. Mark Dayton announces that he’s entering the race for governor and makes it clear he will bypass the DFL endorsing process.

Jan. 31 — A collection of progressive organizations, TakeAction Minnesota, endorses three DFLers — Rybak, Kelliher and Thissen — and claims it will unite behind one of those at a crucial point in the state convention and become a power broker.

Feb. 4 — Kelley says he’s bowing out because Rybak had cut into the suburban support he’d hoped to garner.

Feb. 16 — Hann withdraws from Republican race.

March 20 — Bakk, once considered among the top tier candidates, leaves the DFL race.

April 24 — On the sixth ballot at the DFL’s state convention in Duluth, Kelliher wins party endorsement, with Rybak as the last man standing. Other highlights of the convention: TakeAction Minnesota, which had promised to be a powerbroker by getting behind one candidate, couldn’t unite. Rukavina gave the speech of his life, before folding and throwing his support to Kelliher. Marty also folded, throwing his support to Kelliher with the understanding that she would carry on his fight for a single-payer health care system in Minnesota. Dayton was not allowed on the convention floor. Entenza spoke to the delegates, before announcing he was withdrawing from endorsement consideration.

April 26 — Saying she didn’t want to get in the way of Kelliher, Gaertner, who bypassed endorsement, dropped from the race. Later, she endorsed Entenza. 

April 29 — As the Republican state convention opens in Minneapolis, Sarah Palin lets it be known that she supports Emmer.

April 30 — What was supposed to be a long, hard fight between Emmer and Seifert is a quick knockout for Emmer, who wins after two ballots.

May 4 — The worst kept political secret in town is made official: Former Republican Tom Horner is running as the Indpendence Party’s candidate for governor.

May 8 — Horner wins IP endorsement, easily.

In the last few weeks, we’ve had $100,000 waiters, and million-dollar ad buys and now, here we are, nearly to the end of the beginning.

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/10/2010 - 10:55 am.

    Bottom line: I can only hope that the outcome and the General Election to follow, bring blessings for the vast majority of the citizens of Minnesota…

    That the “I, me mine!” attitude into which we had been gradually seduced since about 1980, an attitude which, although it enriched the very few, some beyond the dreams of avarice, ultimately brought a lower standard of living to all BUT those few (including the vast majority of those who continue to espouse it), might now begin to give way to the “Yours, mine, ours!” attitude that once built our state into the economic powerhouse that it was, an attitude that will enable us to begin to rebuild Minnesota into the successful state those of old enough to recall remember so fondly.

  2. Submitted by Leslie Davis on 08/10/2010 - 11:11 am.

    Hey Doug Grow, how come you gave Emmer a free ride over me? That was way not nice. Things will be different in the next leg.
    Leslie Davis for Governor 2010

  3. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 08/10/2010 - 04:03 pm.

    Bravo, Greg, for your nail-on-the-head comment. We can only hope–and VOTE–for the party most likely to achieve that lofty goal of caring for ALL of our citizens: the DFL.

  4. Submitted by Howard Miller on 08/10/2010 - 04:25 pm.

    ” ….who were ready to answer the call that sometimes only they heard.”

    LOVE the way that Mr. Grow, Mr. Black, and other regulars on Minnpost all write. Almost always a special turn of phrase or other verbal jewel

  5. Submitted by Sherry Berg on 08/11/2010 - 01:05 pm.

    wow! thank you for the riff… no wonder my head is still spinning… here’s to “the end of the beginning…” oh my.

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