Marty Seifert hopes his rural roots will help him become the Republican candidate for Minnesota governor this fall.

Seifert, who is poised to face off in the Aug. 12 primary election against three other Republicans, often pointed to his western Minnesota upbringing during a visit to Grand Forks Wednesday. His campaign has made stops in every corner of the state over the past week, including stops in Crookston and Bemidji Wednesday.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

“We’re not treating Minnesota as flyover country,” Seifert said.    

Seifert, a former state representative and House minority leader from southwest Minnesota, failed to secure his party’s endorsement late last month. That went to Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner.

Seifert will face Johnson, state Rep. Kurt Zellers - who was born in Devils Lake - and businessman Scott Honour in the primary. The winner will face Gov. Mark Dayton in the November election.

Seifert’s plan for overcoming the endorsement loss is simple: hit the road. He pointed to previous campaigns of former U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone and former Govs. Jesse Ventura and Rudy Perpich that employed similar efforts.

“Those were all people who were outspent in their campaigns by vast amounts,” Seifert said. “But one thing they all had in common and have in common with me... is that they got out and they traveled.”

Seifert said western Minnesota has a disadvantage to the Twin Cities metro area in a number of ways, including how school and nursing home funding is distributed. He said Minnesota hasn’t elected a governor from outside the metro since Perpich in 1986.

“There’s just a whole lot of concern about how western Minnesota gets left behind in a lot of the public policy that’s made in Minnesota,” he said. “And I’m the one guy who understands that uniquely because I’m from western Minnesota.”

Seifert called Minnesota’s tax system “punishing for employers.” He also decried the regulations and permitting that has slowed the opening of two controversial metal mining projects in northeastern Minnesota.

“The main issue that I think distinguishes us from the Dakotas besides taxes is the regulatory burden is brutal,” he said.