Who will run for Governor now?

by Devin Henry

We’re only a day removed from Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s announcement that he is not running for a third term in 2010. While the news means the Presidential "will he, won’t he?" begins in full force, the absence of an incumbent Republican for the party to nominate in the 2010 also makes the dynamics over that year’s gubernatorial race all that more interesting today.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty

Already, members of both parties and the media have made list after of list of gubernatorial possibilities: the Pioneer Press has a great rundown of possible Republicans and Democrats who could (or have) throw their hats into the ring, former Republican Party Chair Chuck Slocum made a list for TPT, and Minnpost.com links to a list of possible Democrats on the mnpACT! Progressive (liberal) Political Blog, just to name a few.

Here is a brief collection of some notable people to keep an eye on in the coming months, and what people are saying about them:

For the GOP

Former Sen. Norm Coleman

Former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman: "Along with Pawlenty, Coleman is the state’s most prominent Republican. And if he ran, it would be no small irony, considering that in 2002, Pawlenty planned to run for the Senate seat — until the White House explicitly intervened to dissuade him in favor of Coleman. Only then did Pawlenty set his sights on the governor’s office." –Star Tribune

Rep. Michele Bachmann: "As the University of Minnesota’s Lawrence Jacobs noted, Bachmann ‘is someone who would do very well in terms of the party’s endorsement process.’ The challenge for the congresswoman would be winning over enough moderates in the Democratic-leaning state in the general election." –CQ Politics

Marty Seifert

Rep. Marty Seifert, outgoing House Minority Leader: "He said he is talking to Republican leaders around the state to determine the level of support for a gubernatorial bid. Before Pawlenty announced Tuesday that he wouldn’t be seeking another term, Seifert said he assumed the governor would run again and had encouraged him to do so." –Star Tribune

State Sen. Geoff Michel: "The 45-year-old two-term state senator from Edina was rumored Tuesday to be weighing a run. He is fiscally conservative, having joined an effort during the last legislative session to freeze state pay, but socially moderate and co-sponsored a recent medical marijuana bill that passed the Legislature." –Pioneer Press

Former U.S. Congressman Jim Ramstad: "Jim Ramstad received an F from the NRA, supports stem cell research, supports gay rights, and unrelated, is an all around great person… all strikes against him in a Republican primary for Governor.  Also, Ramstad is currently out of state at Harvard where he is a resident fellow leading a study group about addiction." –Dusty Tice (Democratic blogger)

Rep. Laura Brod: "At 37, the fourth-term representative from New Prague is another young conservative voice. Her floor speeches on taxes, abortion and elections are augmented by frequent tweets from her Twitter account, and she has traveled the state on behalf of the party." –Pioneer Press

For the DFL

Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner:  "Gaertner has been in the announced field for awhile but her profile is still pretty low. She has been making the outstate appearances and getting good marks for that; however she is still dogged by the RNC issues and a lack of legislative or executive experience. A lot of people have gotten burned by underestimating her and the fact that she may end up as the only woman in the field are net positives." –mnpACT!

Margaret Anderson Kelliher

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher: "Coming off a bruising legislative session, the 41-year-old House Speaker from Minneapolis is in her sixth term and hasn’t made an announcement of her future plans. She is widely considered a contender for the DFL nomination should she enter the race, but a spokesman said Tuesday that she is focused on her job as speaker and that no announcement is imminent." –Pioneer Press

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman: "The 47-year-old St. Paul mayor is seeking re-election this year, but that didn’t stop him from raising his profile by using his pulpit as second vice president of the League of Minnesota Cities to criticize Pawlenty’s policies during the last legislative session. A spokesman said Coleman is considering a run for governor." –Pioneer Press

R.T. Rybak

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak: "With Pawlenty’s announcement, this opportunity for Rybak will be too big to pass up. An open Governor seat has the popular mayor salivating… One big advantage for Rybak is the Obama connection. As an early supporter of the President, Rybak has some favors he can call in. During the 2010 elections that will be a huge advantage. He will probably have to stay coy for awhile as he moves into his mayoral re-election — but that can give him a nice issue platform as well." –mnpACT!

 Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton: "Dayton said he wasn’t surprised by Pawlenty’s decision, ‘given that he has sacrificed Minnesota’s best interests on the altar of his higher political ambitions for the last couple years. No one who intended to remain in the state would have made the terrible budget decisions that he is imposing on Minnesotans.’ " –Star Tribune

And finally…

Star Tribune Op-Ed columnist Nick Coleman?: "Many people impulsively have ruled out a run for governor. Not me. I am giving it careful deliberation, as befits the gravity of the office … People are asking why I am deliberating about the gov’s office: It has very cool paintings, plus I have a time-honored reason: I need a job" -Coleman says on his Twitter page, presumably joking…

But who knows, right?