Sarah Janacek, of Politics in Minnesota (PIM), has been talking to Minnesota Republicans and divines that “the odds on Norm Coleman getting into the governor’s race now stand at 3-1 in favor.Â And for what it’s worth, the level of excitement around Coleman’s camp seems to be growing palpably.”
The departure this week of Pat Anderson from the GOP pack vying for governor augurs for a Coleman candidacy, according to Janacek. Anderson announced that she was switching to the contest for state auditor, a position she held from 2003-2007.
- Norm Coleman at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)
Burnishing the rumor of Coleman’s imminent entry into the gubernatorial race, Janacek writes that the former U.S. senator — who lost his Senate seat by a nano percentage to Al Franken in 2008 — will choose Rep.Â Laura Brod, R-New Prague, as his lieutenant governor running mate. BrodÂ “somewhat mysteriously withdrew her name as a possible GOP gubernatorial candidate late last summer for health reasons (without any further specificity then or to date),” Janacek adds.
Bob Collins, politics reporter for Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), also has announced on his News Cut blog that Coleman will enter the race:
Coleman automatically becomes the favorite to win the Republican nomination and enters the general election with 1,211,590 votes, the number he picked up in his race for U.S. Senate against Al Franken. The bitterness escalated during the protracted recount with Franken, but it’s unlikely Coleman supporters defected to the DFL side because of it.
Keep that vote number in mind because it’s almost 200,000 more than Tim Pawlenty got in 2008, and 300,000 more than Pawlenty got in 2002. In both cases, the Independence Party (previously the Reform Party) fielded a strong candidate. That isn’t the case his year. It’s also true, of course, that those Independent votes don’t automatically go to a Republican.
MPR’s Collins notes that Coleman can raise campaign cash and has the requisite name recognition; but he faces ideological antagonists in his own party. As Collins points out, former GOP state party chair Ron Ebensteiner recently wrote in a Star Tribune commentary piece that Coleman’s winning the party endorsement is “a virtual impossibility,” because he “has strayed too often from core Republican principles.” Simply, he is not far enough to the right.
Ebensteiner wrote that Coleman’s “only path to victory is running in a costly primary that would fracture the Republican Party.”
Some pundits think that Coleman’s precarious personal finances — he reportedly has re-mortgaged the family home in St. Paul a number of times — would lead him to a well-paying job in the private sector. However, since his days as a prosecutor in the Minnesota attorney general’s office, Coleman has nurtured political aspirations. He was mayor of St. Paul, switched affiliation from the DFL to the GOP, got a new hairdo and orthodontia on the way to losing the 1998 governor’s race to Jesse Ventura, won Minnesota’s Jewish Senate seat in 2002 (after the untimely death of incumbent Sen. Paul Wellstone), and was turned out of office after one term in 2008.
Coleman is one of the most politically ambitious individuals in Minnesota history. He likely will pitch his much-tossed hat into the ring this year. — Mordecai Specktor