Emerging anew into the political scene on Thursday, Republican Marty Seifert jumped into the already crowded race to unseat DFL Gov. Mark Dayton next year.
"I think it's a wide open race," Seifert said at a St. Paul announcement.
Seifert, the always quick with a quip former Minnesota legislator, adds a prominent outstate voice to the race. He long represented Marshall, Minnesota in the Legislature and has been the executive director of the Avera Marshall Foundation since late 2010.
This is Seifert's second swing for the seat. He ran in 2010 and dropped out when he lost the Republican endorsement to Tom Emmer.
He said although he will work hard to win the nod at next spring's Republican Party convention he is "open minded" regarding running in a primary if he does not receive that imprimatur.
Seifert, 41, will join other Republicans in that openness. Both businessman Scott Honour and state Rep. Kurt Zellers have made clear they will continue to run if convention activists pick someone else. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson and state Sen. Dave Thompson have said they will abide by the endorsement. All four of those candidates hail from the Twin Cities suburbs.
Seifert differs from those four in saying he will not release his tax information to the public. Dayton has long released his; Johnson and Thompson released theirs and officials from Honour and Zellers' campaigns have said theirs will be on the way as well.
Seifert said he has moved to part time work at the medical foundation and will phase out of that job entirely in December so that he can concentrate on his campaign.
“Once before former Rep. Marty Seifert tried to convince the right-wing activists in the Republican Party that he would carry their conservative torch through a gubernatorial election," said DFL Chair Ken Martin. Martin claimed the lesson of the 2013 elections was that Republicans should offer up someone who can work with both Democrats and Republicans. "It will be interesting to see if Republican activists got that memo.”
When Seifert ran three years ago, Republican activists saw Emmer as more exciting choice and a better conservative standard barer. Emmer, who is now running for the U.S. House seat Rep. Michele Bachmann will vacate, went on to narrowly lose to Dayton in what otherwise was a very good year to the GOP.
State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, was a Emmer supporter in 2010 and is now backing Seifert. He said that, in retrospect, Seifert may have been able to beat Dayton back then and he believes he can do it next year.
Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken picked up an early union endorsement.
The Minnesota AFL-CIO General Board voted to back the two Democrats for reelection, saying both were strong advocates for working Minnesotans.
“As governor, Mark Dayton is working to build a better Minnesota through successful job creation strategies, restoring fairness to our tax system, strengthening education, and supporting the rights of working people to bargain collectively,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson.
“Al Franken, with a 98 percent AFL-CIO voting record, has demonstrated time and time again that he can be counted on to be a champion for working families in the United States Senate,” she said.
Both candidates have relied heavily on union support in the past, both money and manpower. In past elections, Minnesota’s union members put in thousands of hours on the phone and at the door, volunteering to help elect endorsed candidates.
The AFL-CIO elected board represents more than 300,000 union members throughout the state of Minnesota.
Jeff Johnson, a Republican candidate for governor, and his wife earned $227,000 last year and paid $55,000 in federal, state and other taxes, according to information he released to the Star Tribune.
Johnson is the third candidate in the 2014 governor's race to release his tax information. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican candidate Dave Thompson, a state senator, released their tax information at the Star Tribune's request last week.
Republican candidate for governor Scott Honour is expected to release his tax information this week, according to his campaign. Kurt Zellers, a fourth Republican candidate and a current state House member, has yet to fully respond to the Star Tribune's request for his tax records.
Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, and wife donated $14,205 last year, according to his federal tax form.
Dayton, an heir to the Dayton's department store fortune, donated $1,000 in 2012 of his income of $343,234. Asked about his low dollar donations, the governor said, "I'm disappointed in myself."
Republican Marty Seifert, who ran for governor in 2010 and has been upfront about his interest in running again, says politicos should circle Nov. 21 on their calendars.
"I could be announcing anything," he said of his announcement at 1:30 p.m. in the State Office Building. "I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise."
But for Seifert, a former House minority leader from Marshall, there should be little surprise. He has left little doubt over the past few months that he's very interested in running for governor. On Tuesday, MinnPost cited sources saying Seifert would announce on Nov. 21; last week, the Morning Take newsletter said Seifert would announce on Nov. 18.
Last month, he came in third as a write-in candidate at the Minnesota Republican Party's straw poll for governor.
Before that showing, Seifert said: “I’d be leery of wanting to be the winner because they never go on to be the nominee."
Seifert won the 2009 gubernatorial straw poll and lost the 2010 endorsement for governor to Tom Emmer.
Gov. Mark Dayton had $343,234 in income last year, with his earnings from capital gains and dividends from exceeding his income from his state salary of $116,125 from the state.
The Democratic governor earned $92,381 from a family trust, more than doubling what he had received from the Bruce Dayton trust the year before, and $130,291 from capital gains. In 2011, he earned $190,998 from capital gains. He gave $1,000 in to charity, according to the return.
The scion to the Dayton department store fortune, who successfully pushed to increase taxes on upper income Minnesotans this year, paid $64,157 in federal income and $24,990 in state taxes. The governor's office said that his combined effective tax rate was 29.75 percent last year.
If next year Dayton brings in the taxable income he did in 2012, he would have to pay the higher state income tax rate the Legislature passed and he signed into law in 2013.
Dayton has released his tax returns every year since 2010.
Several of the Republicans running against Dayton have also made agreements to release their tax returns.
As of Tuesday afternoon, only Republican Dave Thompson had released his return to the Star Tribune.
According to Thompson's return, he and his wife earned $198,322 last year. The state senator from Lakeville said his family brought in income from his senate salary, Twin Cities Power LLC, Thompson's legal work and his wife's teaching income.
According to his federal return his family gave $20,465 to charity.
Thompson paid about $40,000 in total taxes last year.
The Star Tribune on Tuesday also requested tax return details from Republicans
Jeff Johnson, Scott Honour and Kurt Zellers, who are running for governor, and will update this post if it receives those returns.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson said late Tuesday that he would release his returns, minus information about his wife's income, to the Star Tribune quickly.
Dayton's tax return:
Thompson's tax return: