In a move that shakes up two statewide contests, Republican Patricia Anderson said Tuesday she has dropped out of the governor's race and is running for her old job as state auditor instead.

Anderson, who lost the auditor's race to Democrat Rebecca Otto in 2006, said her gubernatorial bid was frustrated in part by the shadow former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman cast over the field. Coleman, a Republican, has left open the possibility that he will run for governor.

"A number of key players in the party have remained on the sidelines 'Waiting for Godot' to show up," Anderson said.

Uncertainty about Coleman made raising money and courting Republicans difficult, Anderson said. In a statement, Coleman said he "heartily" embraced Anderson's switch but remained vague about his own gubernatorial ambitions.

"In the near future, my decision about which path I intend to pursue to help Minnesota and its citizens address our state's challenges and opportunities will become clear," Coleman said. "I look forward to being a part of that debate about Minnesota's future in whatever role I believe is most beneficial."

In third place

Among Republicans in the governor's race, Anderson considered herself in third place, behind front-runner State Rep. Marty Seifert and state Rep. Tom Emmer.

Anderson did not endorse anyone else, but acknowledged Emmer would be a natural choice for her base. Both Anderson and Emmer appeal to fans of 2008 presidential candidate Ron Paul, who represents a wing of the party that is gaining strength among local party activists.

Frank Crusing, a state House candidate from Eagan, said he will switch his allegiance from Anderson to Emmer.

"Tom's going to get my support," he said. Neither Coleman nor Seifert are conservative enough to win his vote, he said.

Emmer said he has long heard that he has been the second choice for Anderson supporters.

Seifert said he will actively pursue Anderson's former supporters and called his current campaign a "juggernaut."

"I have not had one donor tell me, 'Marty, I can't give you money because I'm waiting for Coleman,'" Seifert said.

The other auditor candidates

Three Republicans are already running for auditor. Jeff Wiita and Long Lake Mayor Randy Gilbert say their candidacies are unaffected by Anderson's decision.

Former St. Paul school board member Tom Conlon called Anderson a strong candidate and said he would have to think about how her run affects him.

Otto, who is running for reelection, welcomed Anderson to the race with a swipe.

"Minnesota families can't afford another four years of the hundreds of millions of dollars in financial errors made by Ms. Anderson when she was state auditor ... I've been cleaning up after her for three years," Otto said in a release. Otto beat Anderson 52-41 percent in 2006, a year when all statewide Republican office-seekers but Gov. Tim Pawlenty lost in Minnesota.

Anderson said Otto has been a passive auditor.

"An active state auditor is what I was, an active state auditor is what I will be," Anderson said.

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger • 651-292-0164