The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 31, 2013

Republicans line up to challenge Dayton

GOP looks for candidate with broad appeal

As Gov. Mark Dayton prepares to run for a second term, plenty of Republicans are preparing to take him on.

All of them say that the Democratic governor is taking the state in the wrong direction by increasing taxes and government spending. They also agree that to defeat Dayton, Minnesota Republicans need to look beyond someone who can merely excite the party's far right to find a candidate with broad appeal.

But there is no consensus among the potential Republican gubernatorial candidates about how the GOP should unite behind one. Just two of the six candidates say they will honor the party endorsement process. The others say they're keeping open the option of primary campaigns if they fail to win the endorsement of GOP convention delegates.

Among those considering fighting it out in a primary is former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert of Springfield, who ended his 2010 campaign for governor campaign after Tom Emmer won the endorsement.

"We have to be able to appeal to independents and conservative Democrats, and I have the proven ability to do that," Seifert said. "Everyone in the race is a good person, but I've got the ability to win the general."

Seifert said as he campaigns crowds are larger than they were in 2010 and Republicans are telling him they want to win, not just nominate a conservative to make a point.

"They're tired of losing," he said. "And we hold as Republicans no statewide office right now, and we do not have control of either chamber of the Legislature so I think there's a mindset change that people have that they maybe didn't have before."

In the last big statewide race — the 2012 Senate contest, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar trounced Republican challenger Kurt Bills by nearly 35 percentage points. Bills won the GOP endorsement at a state convention that was stacked with libertarian supporters of former Congressman Ron Paul.

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