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GOP candidate Seifert swings by Bemidji: Says he will enter primary regardless of who gets party endorsement

Former Minnesota House Minority Leader, Marty Seifert is the newest GOP entrant in the governors race. Shown above Seifert hosted a meet and greet at The Cabin Coffe House and Cafe on Tuesday afternoon stopping first to talk to Jerry Stone, International Falls and Vic Thompson, Clearbrook. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI -- Republican candidate for governor, Marty Seifert, stopped by the Cabin Coffee House & Cafe in Bemidji on the last leg of his announcement tour of Minnesota.

Seifert, former minority leader of the Minnesota House of Representatives, announced his candidacy on Nov. 21, months after other GOP candidates made their announcements. Seifert told the approximately 20 people gathered at Cabin Coffee House the late entry was due to his obligations as head of the new cancer center under construction in Marshall, raising money.

“It wasn’t some strategic decision, it wasn’t some political decision, it was because I believe very firmly that we need a cancer center for the people of southwest Minnesota,”  he said.

He said he would fight in the primary regardless of whether or not he received the state party’s endorsement.

“I would like to go into the primary as the endorsed candidate if I could,” he said. “I’m not going to swear by the endorsement.”

He vowed not to accept campaign contributions from lobbyists during his campaign.

Seifert also described a five-point outline of his platform. The first of his planks is to “reduce the tax and regulatory burden on the average Minnesotan by at least seven percent.”

“That includes unsnarling the knot that is known as Obamacare,” Seifert said.

Seifert’s second plank includes eliminating the Minnesota Department of Corrections, the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Industry, whose functions he said can be folded into the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Commerce.

“We have one of the biggest cabinets in the United States of America,” he said of Minnesota’s government. “We have the 1970s mentality of ‘if you want happiness, create the Department of Happiness.’”

Seifert also wants to repeal the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 and get rid of the Met Council.

The third plank centers on transportation. Seifert said the money being used for a new light rail line in the metro’s Southwest Corridor would be better used for roads and bridges elsewhere in Minnesota. He called the light rail line and the plan for multi-unit housing along the route  “part of the scheme of trying to make people more dependent on government.”

“They don’t want single-family housing, they don’t want people in their own cars on the roads,” he said. “It’s all about government being bigger and more controlling.”

The fourth plank involves public safety. Seifert brought up the case of serial rapist Thomas Duvall, who earlier this fall was recommended by the Department of Human Services for provisional release from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, a treatment program confining sex offenders that for the most part are civilly committed following their prison sentences. Gov. Mark Dayton ordered DHS effectively to suspend future discharges from the program until it can be reviewed by the Legislature.

“It costs $135,000 year to house Mr. Duvall and treat him,” Seifert said. “If we put him in general prison population, it’s $35,000 a year, not $135,000 a year.”

Seifert’s final plank involves the state government rejecting Common Core, a nationwide school standards initiative. Seifert called Common Core a “federal scheme to dictate our education standards to our kids.”

Seifert also talked briefly about social issues. When asked if he would have vetoed the marriage equality bill that became law earlier this year, Seifert said it was “water under the bridge,” although personally he is against gay marriage.

Seifert said there is no Minnesota law restricting late-term abortions, which he felt is an oversight.

“Minnesota’s policy and Mark Dayton’s policy right now is taxpayer funding of abortion in all nine months of pregnancy,” he said.

Seifert said he would have signed a 2011 bill which would have banned abortions in Minnesota after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“Mark Dayton vetoed that bill,” he said. “I would sign that bill, and you can put that in the newspaper. I’m not ashamed to say that there’s a distinction between us.”

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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