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Seifert casts wide net in primary campaign

Gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert waves to the crowd during his trip down Washington Avenue in the Water Carnival Parade Sunday. Detroit Lakes was just one stop on his extensive campaign. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

Marty Seifert knows his parades.

As one of five Republican candidates in the Minnesota gubernatorial primary election on Aug. 12, Seifert said he has been averaging four or five parades per weekend.

As parades go, the Water Carnival parade in Detroit Lakes on Sunday was one of the best, with thousands of people turning out to watch.

And Seifert even emerged at the other end high and dry, despite following the Laker girls’ golf team, which got drenched by the crowd to honor them for their state tournament wins the past three years.

“They even wore my (campaign) buttons for me,” Seifert said of the golfers. “It was a really good time, really great. I just appreciate everybody being so friendly.”

It’s not easy to reach the estimated 10 to 15 percent of voters expected to cast ballots in the primary election. So Seifert has been casting a wide net.

He hasn’t just been going to parades. A Rotarian, he has been invited to speak at a number of Rotary meetings in the Twin Cities.

He has even been known to drop in on informal coffee groups, like one in Alexandria recently, where the 20 to 30 members all said they planned to vote in the primary election.

He says he is also the first of the five Republican candidates for governor to visit every Minnesota county.

“We finished our 87-county tour a week-and-a-half ago,” he said. “We wrapped up in Cook and Lake counties, up in that area.”

In Ada, recently, a journalist told him he was the first candidate for governor’s office to appear in decades.

Seifert’s get-out-and-meet-people campaign style matches his fund-raising philosophy.

“I don’t take money from lobbyists,” he said. “I served 14 years in the (Minnesota) House and I never took a penny from a lobbyist.”

He does accept contributions from political action committees, but said the vast majority of his contributions come from individual donors.

He joined the State Legislature early, while still in his 20s, and was turned off by the “cattle call” system where lobbyists would all be sitting in a hotel lobby meeting politicians and handing out checks.

“I was one of four legislators (out of more than 200) who said ‘I’m not going to be part of that,’” Seifert said. The scene reminded him of “moneychangers in the temple,” he said.

He said most of his funding comes from rural Minnesotans, people willing to write a check for $100 or $50.

So far during the campaign, Seifert has raised about $291,000 and has just over $104,000 on hand. He has raised less, but also spent less, and has more cash on hand than several of his opponents, including Kurt Zellers, who has raised nearly $543,000 and has almost $95,000 cash on hand.

The endorsed candidate, Jeff Johnson, has raised over $285,000 and has nearly $33,000 cash on hand.

“We’re frugal, and we’re just working our hearts out, trying to meet a lot of people,” Seifert said.

Johnson is recovering after unscheduled stomach surgery Monday. His campaign says Johnson complained of abdominal pain and went to urgent care. He was sent to Maple Grove Hospital where doctors found a small perforation in his stomach and repaired it.

A spokesman says Johnson appears to be doing well. Seifert and Kurt Zellers sent best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Asked if there were any policy issues where he differed from his opponents, Seifert pointed to a statement from Johnson’s running mate, Bill Kuisle, that Highway 2 in the northern part of the state should have remained a two-lane highway, and not been made into a four-lane highway.

“I disagree with that, it’s a major artery,” Seifert said.

Kuisle served on the Transportation Finance Committee during his eight years in the Minnesota House.

“He’s one of the major voices” for Johnson’s transportation policy, Seifert said.

Seifert said several respected Republican lawmakers in the region have recently endorsed him.

State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexan-

dria), Rep. Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) and former Reps. Dennis Poppenhagen (IR-Detroit Lakes), George Cassell (R-Alexandria) and Bob Westfall (R-Rothsay) have offered public endorsements of Seifert’s campaign.

Here’s where Seifert stands on the issues, according to his website:

Taxes and regulation

Seifert supports reducing taxes and the equivalent regulatory burden on the average Minnesotan.

Many Minnesotans have seen their net discretionary income fall backward.  A Seifert administration will allow the average Minnesotan to keep more of what they earn.

Size of government

Seifert would abolish three cabinet departments, in addition to eliminating the Metropolitan Council.

Over a one-year period, the functions no longer required will be eliminated and needed functions will be transferred to local units of government or other cabinet departments.

The departments will include Health, Labor & Industry and Corrections. Functions maintained will chiefly be folded into Human Services, Commerce and Public Safety.

All other departments will be asked to reduce their budgets by a minimum of 7 percent. Part of the regulatory reform to save consumers’ costs will be complete repeal of the Next Generation Energy Act.

Second Amendment

Seifert is a solid supporter of the Second Amendment and believes it is a fundamental right. He received an “A” rating from the NRA as a legislator and he is a member of the NRA.

Seifert opposes any new gun control and would swiftly veto any bill that contained any gun control. He opposes any registration or magazine limits and supports reciprocity for Right to Carry and the Castle Doctrine.

Sanctity of life

Seifert and Rep. Pam Myhra are strong pro-life advocates. Seifert would sign into law bills to protect life, including: Fetal pain legislation, ending taxpayer funding of abortion, and ending “webcam” abortions.

As a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Seifert voted for pro-life bills 100 percent of the time. He has worked with Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life to pass pro-life legislation. Seifert is also a strong supporter of Minnesota’s anti-assisted suicide laws.


Improving our transportation system will include halting the construction of the $1.5 billion Southwest Light Rail Transit line and a better focus on expansion and improvement of roads and bridges in all of Minnesota.

Public safety

Seifert will stop any attempt to release dangerous sex offenders into the community. The long-term goal will be to restructure sentencing for those we are mad at and aim resources for imprisonment of those we are afraid of.


Reform the public education system to make it the best in the country.

Minnesota’s educational curriculum is best developed by parents, teachers, school board members and our communities, not federal bureaucrats. Seifert strongly opposes No Child Left Behind and any involvement in the “Common Core” federal curriculum.

Health care

Obamacare and Mark Dayton’s full implementation of Obamacare is hurting Minnesota families through more expensive care and loss of coverage.

Some 280,000 Minnesotans lost their plan or had to change plans because of Obamacare. Seifert believes it is important to change the board members of MNsure and do everything possible to increase choice and competition in the state to lower costs, including allowing more companies to offer insurance here.