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With his children, Brittany and Braxton, at his side, former state Rep. Marty Seifert announces Thursday that he is running for governor. He enters an already crowded Republican field to challenge Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. FORUM NEWS SERVICE/Don Davis

Former Marshall-area Rep. Seifert enters Minn. governor’s race

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Former state Rep. Marty Seifert got into the governor’s race Thursday saying that he is the only candidate with deep experience in both the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.

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The Marshall Republican told reporters at a state Capitol complex news conference that he grew up in rural Minnesota and long has lived in Marshall, but from 1997 to 2010 spent much of his time in the Twin Cities representing his part of southwestern Minnesota in the Legislature.

But that was not the main reason he gave got running for governor.

“The No. 1 issue in the campaign is lack of leadership,” he said about incumbent Democrat Mark Dayton.

Seifert promised to reduce Minnesota taxes and regulatory burdens; abolish the Health, Labor and Industry and Corrections departments; improve the state road and bridge system; stop any attempt to release dangerous sex offenders; and make the education system “the best in the country.”

Like he did in his state House races and when he ran for governor in 2010, Seifert said he would reject lobbyists’ donations.

He lost the 2010 GOP governor endorsement to Tom Emmer, who lost the general election to Dayton. Seifert said that if he did not get the party’s endorsement at next spring’s state convention that he might run in the primary election.

He made his announcement in Marshall, then headed to St. Paul and Mankato. His wife, Traci, and children Brittany and Braxton were at his side.

The 41-year-old Republican has been a teacher, real estate agent and businessman and worked for his local hospital.

Seifert said he will visit 13 cities by the end of the day Tuesday.

He joins other Republicans in the GOP race: state Sen. Dave Thompson, businessman Scott Honour, teacher Rob Farnsworth, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and state Rep. Kurt Zellers.

State Sen. Julie Rosen of Fairmont has said she was considering running, but she now is not expected to. Seifert said he likely is the last GOP candidate to get in the race.

Farnsworth of Hibbing is the only other greater Minnesota candidate in the race, but others have touted their rural experience. Zellers, for instance, grew up on a North Dakota farm and Johnson is a Detroit Lakes, Minn., native.

Chairman Ken Martin of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party said that Seifert failed when he ran for governor earlier and that Republicans do not appear to have gotten the message from recent elections that they prefer Democrats.

“It will be interesting to see if Republican activists got that memo and are open to moderate candidates or if they are still looking for someone to run to the right and against building a better Minnesota,” Martin said.

Seifert said his message to fellow Republicans is that any governor candidate needs to get voters from outside their party to win. “I have a better ability to get non-Republican votes.”

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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