Former gubernatorial candidates reflect on a race lost

The Republicans endorsed Rep. Tom Emmer and the DFL endorsed House Speaker Magaret Anderson Kelliher.

by Kyle Potter

After a total of eight rounds of balloting, a handful of concession speeches and showers of balloons and confetti, the DFL and Republican parties of Minnesota have endorsed candidates for the upcoming governorâÄôs race. The Republicans picked Rep. Tom Emmer after two rounds of voting during last weekendâÄôs Republican convention. His opponent, Rep. Marty Seifert, withdrew after the second ballot. For the DFL, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher beat a group of candidates including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to win the endorsement. SheâÄôll face an August primary battle before the Nov. 2 election. Some of the losers will seek re-election in their current offices, and others will leave politics in search of new careers and opportunities. The Minnesota Daily caught up with some of those candidates. R.T. Rybak Party: DFL âÄî Current office: Mayor of Minneapolis On the convention: âÄú[Kelliher] has a lot of support within the party, and that was tough to overcome,âÄù Rybak said. âÄúIt is so critical for Democrats to come together to beat Tom Emmer âÄî who will be an extremely conservative governor âÄî so I am backing the endorsed candidate.âÄù On his campaign experience: Rybak said the highlight of his campaign was working with the large group of young supporters and staff, whom he applauded for their work. âÄúWe built a base that may be used for me or another candidate ongoing,âÄù he said. âÄúThe final chapter has not been written.âÄù On the future: âÄúI go back to a job I love as mayor,âÄù he said. Rybak may run for governor again in the future, but he said he wants to focus on Minneapolis for now. Marty Seifert Party: Republican âÄî Current office: State representative On the convention: âÄúI didnâÄôt think it was worth dragging the convention on and on,âÄù Seifert said of his decision to bow out of the race after the second ballot. He questioned whether EmmerâÄôs endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin made the difference at the convention. He was unavailable for comment. On Tom Emmer: âÄúI want each and every one of you to campaign as hard as I am going to campaign for him,âÄù Seifert said to applause during his concession speech. He said Minnesotans are hungry for less government and less taxes. âÄúI think Tom Emmer is the guy to do that,âÄù he said. On the future: Seifert announced mid-campaign that he would not run for re-election as a state representative in 2010. He said he will focus on his family and his small business, a property management company. âÄúYou never say never, but I think we are taking a hiatus from politics.âÄù Tom Rukavina Party: DFL âÄî Current office: State representative On the convention: âÄúI was the best progressive in this race and thereâÄôs no doubt about it, but now I want you to vote for the second best progressive in this race,âÄù Rukavina said as he put on a Kelliher pin during his concession speech. He was unavailable for comment. On his campaign experience: âÄúThis has been a wonderful, wonderful ride for me,âÄù he said in his speech, later asking for a show of hands of those who thought he would make it through the fourth ballot. âÄúOur campaign did more with less than anyone.âÄù On the future: Rukavina has filed for re-election for his seat as a state representative in 2010, according to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. Susan Gaertner Party: DFL âÄî Current office: Ramsey County Attorney On the convention: âÄúI was surprised by the outcome,âÄù Gaertner said. She thought Rybak had the momentum at the convention, but said she respects the partyâÄôs decision. âÄúI thought that the convention-goers would perceive him as more electable because heâÄôs not part of the mess at the Capitol, but obviously I read that wrong.âÄù On her campaign experience: âÄúIâÄôve learned a lot about Minnesota, about MinnesotansâÄô lives,âÄù she said. âÄúIâÄôm sorry that I wonâÄôt have an opportunity to improve MinnesotansâÄô lives through that role.âÄù On the future: Gaertner announced she would finish her term as county attorney but would not seek re-election in 2010. âÄúFour four-year terms is enough for me,âÄù she said. âÄúWhat happens after that remains to be seen.âÄù John Marty Party: DFL âÄî Current office: State senator On the convention: âÄúIt obviously hurts when you donâÄôt win,âÄù Marty said. âÄúBut weâÄôre really pleased that the candidate who did get the endorsement âĦ has made a commitment that sheâÄôs going to work with us to try to enact [the Minnesota Health Care Plan] into law.âÄù On his campaign experience: âÄúItâÄôs certainly made me more passionate about the issues IâÄôm working on âĦ IâÄôve learned much more about the needs of the state and obviously feel very passionate about it because of that.âÄù On the future: Marty said the first step is to close up his gubernatorial campaign office, a process that includes finding new jobs for his staff. Once completed, he will run for re-election to the state Senate. Paul Thissen Party: DFL âÄî Current office: State representative On the convention: âÄúIâÄôm disappointed in the result, because I thought we had the right message about where the party and the state needs to go,âÄù Thissen said. âÄúBut IâÄôm very happy to support the party moving forward.âÄù On his campaign experience: âÄúI was pleased and humbled with the support. It is an odd feeling being someone who really is doing this for the first time.âÄù On the future: Thissen will run for re-election for his seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2010. âÄúThereâÄôs a lot of work to be done on the issues I care about in health care, higher education and getting people back to work,âÄù he said. Thissen is open to the possibility of running for governor again in the future, but he stressed the importance of the DFL party getting through this election first.