A former high school civics teacher and the youngest of six boys raised on a Minnesota farm, Rep. Marty Seifert portrays himself as a measured alternative to the more temperamental Tom Emmer, his chief rival for the Republican gubernatorial endorsement.
But Seifert has conservative credentials that can equal -- and even surpass -- Emmer, in part because he's got a deeper record. As former House majority whip and former minority leader, Seifert has spent years in the legislative trenches arguing his message of lower taxes and smaller government.
Seifert, who turned 38 last week, was elected to the Legislature 14 years ago and in 2006 became minority leader, just as his party lost control of the House. Seifert was instrumental in holding his caucus together to uphold Gov. Tim Pawlenty's numerous vetoes except in 2008. That year, DFLers peeled off several of his members for an override on a gas tax increase that ushered in a hotly disputed, $6.6 billion transportation bill. Seifert sternly reprimanded the defectors, whose votes led to the first state gas tax increase in 20 years and provided new money for bridges and highways in the wake of the fatal collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis.
Like outgoing Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Seifert has taken the "no new taxes" pledge and promises that his administration will go beyond the pledge to push for tax reform aimed at helping business create jobs. He has also promised that his campaign will not accept contributions from lobbyists.
During his time as minority leader, Seifert focused on welfare abuse and other issues championed by Republicans. Though he has publicly remained closely aligned with Pawlenty, Seifert is endorsed by former Gov. Al Quie, who last fall joined DFLers in arguing that the state's budget had a structural imbalance that threatened Minnesota's future. Quie has said he and Seifert disagree on taxes.
Seifert, who lives in Marshall, chose Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah as a running mate and has emphasized his ticket's appeal to both outstate and Twin Cities voters.