Ex-Sen. Norm Coleman won’t run for governor

Published 9:15 am Monday, January 18, 2010

“I love Minnesota and I love public service, but this is not the right time for me and my family to conduct a campaign for Governor.

“Timing is everything. The timing on this race is both a bit too soon and a bit too late. It is too soon after my last race and too late to do a proper job of seeking the support of delegates who will decide in which direction our party should go. The commitments I have to my family and the work I am currently engaged in do not allow me to now go forward.

“At the moment, I am tremendously energized by the work I am currently involved in to create a positive, center right agenda for this country. Anger on the left and anger on the right will get us nowhere. In Minnesota, we face a jobs deficit, a budget deficit and a bipartisanship deficit. We must all put aside the bitterness and sniping and remember that behind every job loss and every home foreclosure is a Minnesota family losing hope and confidence.”

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“I think I can be part of recreating a more civil and respectful politics, a politics that better expresses the will of the vast majority of people. I will continue my efforts to work with Republicans, Independents and moderate, common sense Democrats across the country to advance the values of fiscal responsibility, entrepreneurship, effective government change, national security and respect for life. That’s where America is philosophically and we need well-thought-out policies that express it.

“My thanks to the many folks who encouraged me to run, but I’ve learned there are lots of ways to serve without an official position. Dr. King said everyone can be great because everyone can serve. We all need to seek out how our service can do the most good, and at this moment in my life, I’ve found mine.”

“Thanks. God bless you.”

Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman announced Sunday that he wouldn’t run for Minnesota governor, saying it was “not the right time” for a new race just months after losing his Senate seat in a bruising recount.

Coleman posted a statement on his Facebook page explaining his decision.

“The timing on this race is both a bit too soon and a bit too late,” he said. “It is too soon after my last race and too late to do a proper job of seeking the support of delegates who will decide in which direction our party should go.”

Coleman, 60, didn’t immediately return a phone message left at his house late Sunday night.

Coleman spent a single term in the Senate before he was unseated by Democrat Al Franken in a bitter election that was so close it took months of recounting and litigation to settle.

Coleman has kept a low profile since conceding the race in June, but his statewide name recognition and probable fundraising ability cast a shadow over a GOP field without a clear standout. One candidate, Pat Anderson, dropped out of the race last week and said the specter of Coleman was one reason why.

“A number of key players in the party have remained on the sidelines ’waiting for Godot’ to show up,” Anderson said then.

Yet Coleman had negatives, too. The Senate defeat was his second in a statewide election, as he was the GOP nominee in 1998, when outsider Jesse Ventura captured the governor’s race.

And his more moderate tilt late in his Senate term — he voted for the $700 billion bank bailout in 2008, and took moderate stances on issues like the environment — was not a good match for conservatives now dominating the Republican base.

Coleman seemed to allude to the latter in his statement, in which he bemoaned “anger on the left and anger on the right that will get us nowhere.”

Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert of Marshall and state Rep. Tom Emmer of Delano were seen as leading candidates on the GOP side to replace Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who is not seeking a third term as he considers a presidential bid.

Seifert has raised the most money and won an early October straw poll of GOP delegates.

Also in the Republican race are state Rep. Tom Emmer of Delano, state Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie, former state Rep. Bill Haas, environmental activist Leslie Davis, businessman Phil Herwig and failed Minneapolis mayoral candidate Robert Carney.