Coleman will not seek re-election as mayor, might run for governor

St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman announced Saturday he will not run for a third term, opening the door for a possible reprise of his Republican candidacy for governor in 2002.
“I’ve been mayor for seven years. I love this job. I love this city. But I believe in change,” he said. “It is truly the greatest job in the world … This has been a very, very difficult decision for me.”
Coleman made the announcement during a news conference at his City Hall office. He said in June he would not seek re-election if he chose to run for governor again.
But Coleman stopped short of announcing another attempt at the state’s top seat. He has, however, created an exploratory committee and started fund raising for a possible second run. Party insiders expect him to officially announce his intentions in several months.
Explaining he has 13 months left in his current term, Coleman said, “I don’t think we need a two-year campaign for governor.” He lost his 1998 gubernatorial bid to Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura.
Coleman was elected as St. Paul mayor in 1993 as a DFLer but later switched parties and was re-elected in 1997 as a Republican.
In addition to the governor race, there has been talk of Coleman taking a stab at U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone’s seat in 2002, or even a federal appointment if Texas Gov. George W. Bush becomes president.
Coleman served as Bush’s state campaign chairman.
And because the mayor’s announcement was expected, there is already a list of city leaders who have shown interest in the top job.
Some who have already put extensive efforts into their campaigns are City Council members Jay Benanav and Jerry Blakey, former City Council members Bobbi Megard and Bob Long, and state Sen. Randy Kelly (DFL-St. Paul).
Others who have said they may run are businessmen Rick Aguilar and Larry Dandrea. St. Paul Police Chief William Finney also showed interest earlier this year.

— Compiled from staff and wire reports