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Funding for government lapses as short-term spending bill stalls in the Senate

Former House minority leader, Seifert, begins gubernatorial bid

FRIDLEY -- Marty Seifert may have held the first, but many other Republican governor rallies will follow between now and election day on Nov. 2, 2010.

The Marshall state representative opened his official campaign for governor Tuesday, hosting about 100 supporters in a northern Twin Cities suburban factory, then leaving in a motorhome to visit 13 other cities in four days. The economy and state finances were atop his mind.

"I view the deficit as an opportunity," Seifert said.

The next governor, who takes office in 2011, likely will face a budget shortfall of $4 billion to $6 billion, Seifert said. He would use the opportunity to reduce state rules and other mandates placed on local governments.

In theory, that should allow local governments to reduce their property tax collections.

Seifert said that a top priority should be reforming property taxes, and he would require local governments to hold a vote before increasing spending beyond a certain point.

Seifert, who resigned as House minority leader to run for governor, is the first Republican to hold a formal announcement. However, an onslaught of Republican candidates is expected in light of last month's announcement by Gov. Tim Pawlenty that he will not seek a third term.

On Monday, Rep. Tom Emmer of Delano said he would run for the office, saying: "We must turn the tide on the rapid growth of government. If our great state is ever going to return to the days of prosperity, the days when we attracted the best of the best, the most innovative and the most creative, we must fundamentally change our course."

Also running are state Sens. David Hann of Eden Prairie and Mike Jungbauer of East Bethel. Rep. Paul Kohls of Victoria and former Rep. Bill Haas of Camplin have announced, and several others are considering a run, including Reps. Morrie Lanning of Moorhead and Lora Brod of New Prague and former Reps. Steve Sviggum and Charlie Weaver, as well as former State Auditor Pat Anderson.

Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, who lost the governor's race to Jesse Ventura in 1998, also could get into the GOP race.

On the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite side, eight people have said they are running and more are known to be considering it.

For Republicans, a key date will be Sept. 26, when the party holds a rare non-election year convention. A straw poll of convention delegates is expected to thin the field.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.