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GOP gives Seifert thanks

MINNEAPOLIS -- And the winner is: Marty Seifert.

At least the Marshall Republican won the appreciative applause award Saturday, a day after he lost the Republican governor endorsement to fellow state Rep. Tom Emmer.

Seifert appeared embarrassed at a Republican unity breakfast Saturday as those attending the Hilton Hotel event, mostly those with money to donate to campaigns, applauded him long and often for the civil way he ended his campaign a few hours earlier. That was when he took to the Minnesota Republican convention stage and told delegates he knew he could not win and asked everyone to back Emmer.

The two were thought to be close going into the convention, but on the second ballot Emmer bested Seifert 56 percent to 44 percent.

Right after he left the race, Seifert said that conceding then was the statesman-like thing to do. He said he could have held on for a few more ballots.

Emmer, Gov. Tim Pawlenty and about every other big-name Republican in the state thanked Seifert for his service, and the way he bowed out of the race, at the unity breakfast. Afterwards, almost as many wanted to hug or talk to him as they did Emmer.

Republicans tour

Republican statewide candidates take to the air Monday to visit Rochester, Mankato, Alexandria, Moorhead and Duluth to introduce themselves to voters.

The tour begins at the State Capitol and stops at airports in the other communities.

Flying together will be Emmer, lieutenant governor candidate Annette Meeks, attorney general candidate Chris Barden, state auditor candidate Pat Anderson and secretary of state candidate Dan Severson.

Reaction split

Republicans loved it, Democrats hated it. That was the predictable reaction to Tom Emmer's endorsement as the GOP governor candidate.

Here are samples:

"With a last-minute blessing from Sarah Palin, Tom Emmer ... claimed the Minnesota Republican nomination for governor. Emmer, who has spent his career as a rubberstamp for Tim Pawlenty's reckless management, has promised to continue his irresponsible and disastrous agenda." Executive Director Nathan Daschle of the Democratic Governors' Association.

"This fall there will be a clear choice between continuing to keep a lid on taxes and spending and fighting for balanced budgets and returning to the high taxes and out of control spending ways of the past. As Minnesota's next governor, Tom Emmer will bring his common-sense, fiscally responsible approach to St. Paul." Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

"The Republican Party ... blessed the more inflammatory of its two leading candidates and, swayed by a last-minute personal appeal from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, endorsed state representative Tom Emmer as the Republican gubernatorial candidate." Chairman Brian Melendez of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

"His platform of fiscal responsibility stands in stark contrast to the Democrats' never-ending quest for higher taxes and runaway spending. Tom Emmer is the only candidate voters will be able to trust with their pocketbooks and that will make the difference in November." Executive Director Nick Ayers of the Republican Governors' Association.

"Tom and I certainly give voters a clear choice. We can't cut our way to greatness. If Tom Emmer's idea of cutting education and economic development worked, then Mississippi and Alabama would be leading the nation." Matt Entenza, DFL governor candidate.

"Rep. Tom Emmer is the perfect kind of candidate for governor, because he respects the constitutional right to life and has worked and voted to protect innocent life throughout his career as a public servant." Executive Director Scott Fischbach of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.

Also-rans upset

The three GOP governor candidates who received almost no support -- Leslie Davis, Bill Haas and Phil Herwig -- were not happy campers at the convention.

Haas, a former state legislator, said that "our party leadership stood idly by" while candidate forums around the state went on without the minor candidates.

Davis, an environmentalist who surprised many by running for a Republican spot, lashed out at the two major candidates: "Who are Emmer and Seifert and what have they done to deserve a promotion?"

Herwig, an ultraconservative, delivered harsh criticism of the Seifert and Emmer and said "it is shameful" that bleachers in the Minneapolis Convention Center were not full of alternate delegates and guests.

Herwig also criticized legislators running for office. "They don't have their hands on the pulse."

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.