2 GOP nominees for statewide office in Minn. weighing 2012 Senate campaigns vs. Klobuchar

  • Article by: BRIAN BAKST , Associated Press
  • Updated: April 19, 2011 - 5:55 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Two Minnesota Republicans who ran on the party's statewide ticket last fall emerged Tuesday as possible candidates in a 2012 U.S. Senate campaign that so far lacks any declared GOP candidates.

The party's nominees for attorney general and secretary of state are considering taking on Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who cruised to victory in 2006.

Lawyer Chris Barden told The Associated Press that he has been approached by several people about running after an unsuccessful bid for attorney general and is weighing the prospect. He gave no timetable for a decision.

"It's something that every citizen if asked to ponder something like this would take it seriously," Barden said, adding, "The fact is people have asked me and I'm thinking but it's nothing more than that."

Dan Severson, who lost his secretary of state race, is "seriously considering" entering the race and will decide sometime in May, said Kent Kaiser, a political adviser to Severson.

In contrast to recent Senate races in Minnesota, the 2012 race has been slow to take shape. Several big-name Republicans have ruled out campaigns.

GOP operatives acknowledge Klobuchar will be tough to beat. She won her first term in a 20-point blowout, her approval rating remains steady and she has cultivated a middle-of-the-road reputation. Plus, she has a $2.5 million stockpile even though her fundraising efforts for re-election haven't really ramped up yet.

There will be 33 Senate seats will be on the line next November, including 23 now held by majority Democrats or independents aligned with them. For now, the Minnesota race isn't attracting much attention from national parties despite the state's reputation as being competitive.

Barden was new to politics when he emerged last April to run against Democratic Attorney General Lori Swanson. It gave Barden statewide exposure, but he suffered a double-digit loss after running a low-budget campaign.

The new federal health law and efforts to block it were central to Barden's campaign and could loom large in next year's election.

Barden said he took six months away from his law practice for last year's run and expects a Senate run would involve an even greater time commitment.

Severson was a fourth-term Minnesota House member when he ran against Secretary of State Mark Ritchie for the top state elections job. Ritchie won by about 3.5 percentage points.

In January, Severson helped form the Minnesota Organization of Republican Veterans, which has a mission of recruiting and electing military veterans. Severson has testified on behalf of legislation that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID card before getting a ballot.

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