MN Republican Governor Candidates Quick Reference Guide

Quite a few fine Republicans have entered the race for Governor in 2014.  Given the growing field, I decided to put together a little quick reference guide.  First the declared candidates:

Jeff Johnson

-J.D. Degree from Georgetown University Law School

-MN House Representative 2001-2007

-Hennepin County Commissioner 2008-Current

-Republican National Committeeman 2011-Current

-Has said he will abide by MN GOP Endorsement.

-Voted against the Twins Stadium Bill while serving in the MN House

-Top 3 campaign issues: Jobs, Education, Effective Government

-2,600 Facebook/Twitter Followers, lower than might otherwise be due to transitioning Twitter account.

-Jeff has made some dismissive comments on the Occupy Wall Street movement, lost a bid for MN Attorney General in 2006

Dave Thompson

-J.D. Degree from University of Minnesota Law School

-Hosted The Dave Thompson Show

-MN State Senator 2011-Current

-Has said he will abide by MN GOP Endorsement.

-Voted against the Vikings Stadium Bill while serving in the MN Senate

-Top 4 campaign issues: Jobs and Business, Taxes, Social Policy, Education

-4,000 Facebook/Twitter Followers

-DFL filed ethics complaints against Sen. Thompson in 2012 concerning working for and receiving payments from the MN GOP while running as a State Senate Candidate in 2010.  Nothing came of it but expect Democrats to make an issue of it should Sen. Thompson be the candidate in the general election.

Kurt Zellers

-B.A. in political science from University of North Dakota

-Communications Director in politics from 1994 to 2003

-MN House Representative 2003-Current, GOP MN House Leader 2009-Current

-Will not abide by MN GOP Endorsement

-Voted against the Vikings Stadium Bill while serving in the MN House, but allowed Bill to go to the Floor as Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives

-Campaign Issues not mentioned on website, but voting record indicates standard Republican positions

-6,900 Facebook/Twitter Followers

-Democrats will pin gridlock and government shutdown on Zellers’ leadership in the MN House of Representatives.

Scott Honour

-M.B.A. from University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business

-Mergers and Acquisitions Team/Director at The Gored Group, LLC 2002-2012

-Fundraiser for Romney 2012, no elected political experience

-Will not abide by MN GOP Endorsement

-Top 3 campaign issues: Spending, Jobs/Economy, Education

-9,300 Facebook/Twitter Followers

-The method by which Honour earned his wealth presents a significant barrier to his success in a general election.  He will be painted as an out-of-touch corporate vulture and, like Romney, may never be able to shake the mantle.

There are several undeclared candidates, although in my estimation only two of them are serious potentials:

Julie Rosen

-B.S. in Agronomy from Colorado State University

-Marketing Representative for Elanco and American Hoechst Chemical Company prior to being elected

-MN Senator 2003-Current

-Focuses on jobs, health care, agriculture/renewable energy, drug treatment/education

-Voted in favor of the Vikings Stadium

-400 Facebook/Twitter Followers

-Divorced in 2010

Marty Seifert

-B.S. in Political Science from Southwest Minnesota State University

-MN House Representative 1997-2011, MN House GOP Leader 2007-2009

-Currently Executive Director of Avera Marshall Foundation, Buyer’s Agent with Real Estate Retrievers in Marshall

-4,700 Facebook/Twitter Followers

-Voted against Twins Stadium

-Lost bid to become MN GOP Governor Candidate to Tom Emmer in close endorsement battle in 2010

What we have here are 3 candidates that have a reasonable chance of earning the MN GOP Endorsement: Jeff Johnson, Dave Thompson and Marty Seifert.  Kurt Zellers and Julie Rosen are non-starters due to either allowing the Vikings Stadium Bill to reach the floor or for voting in favor of the Vikings Stadium Bill.  Despite 1/3 of Republicans voting for the Bill, it is the touch of death with the majority of MN GOP party activists and essentially disqualifies them from the MN GOP Endorsement for Governor.

We also have two candidates who have said they will not honor the endorsement process: Kurt Zellers and Scott Honour.  Saying you will not honor the MN GOP Endorsement also disqualifies a candidate from receiving said Endorsement.

That leaves Jeff Johnson, Dave Thompson and Marty Seifert.  All three voted against either the Vikings Stadium or Twins Stadium Bills, so their fiscal conservatism should be considered sincere.  All three are also social conservatives by their voting records, therefore all three should be acceptable to all key wings of the MN GOP.  Assuming Seifert does indeed declare toward the end of the year, it looks like we’ll have a 3-way endorsement fight.

The primary is a different matter entirely.  Scott Honour has some pretty deep pockets.  He is more than capable of taking the endorsed candidate to task with all methods of communication.  Heck he’s already running like a primary candidate by going after Mark Dayton in earnest.  His spike in social media followers in a relatively short period of time shows the expertise of his campaign team bench.  If he wants to, he could make the primary battle very ugly.  Doing so would almost certainly give the general election to Mark Dayton.

Assuming a friendly primary season the best candidate with a chance to win the primary (Jeff Johnson, Dave Thompson, Marty Seifert and Scott Honour) is a tough call.  Scott Honour is probably the hardest general election sell as his money won’t mean much against a moneyed Dayton and his personal story is too similar to an all-too-easily-demonized Mitt Romney.  Dave Thompson’s ethics complaint, while almost certainly groundless, will also be a barrier in a general.  His time as a radio host will also provide a rich library for Democrats to pull comments out of context.  Thompson’s push for Right to Work could also be a liability or an asset, as a slim majority support Right to Work but it also serves as a rallying cry for Democratic opposition.

That leaves Jeff Johnson and Marty Seifert.  Both have lost State-wide elections and are seen as effective communicators.  Seifert has the wider network of supporters from his time as a Minority Leader in the MN House of Representatives, although Johnson’s network is nothing to smirk at.  Johnson also has the benefit of having multiple political positions under his belt.  I believe it will come down to who campaigns more effectively.  Right now Jeff Johnson has a significant head start and Marty Seifert has yet to declare.

8 thoughts on “MN Republican Governor Candidates Quick Reference Guide

  1. Jeff and Marty are clearly the best. Solid Minnesotans that care about the state and have consrvative principles.

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