Potential Coleman GOP Rival: I Love Norm, “But He Lost To Al Franken, For Goodness’ Sake”

I just got off the phone with Minnesota Republican state Rep. Marty Seifert, who recently stepped down from his position as state House Minority Leader to run for Governor, about a very important topic: What might happen if former Sen. Norm Coleman runs for the GOP nomination, too. And Seifert gave a sneak preview of what lines of attack Coleman will face from his intra-party rivals if he makes the race, as he’s reportedly looking at.

Seifert struck a careful balance between praising Coleman, but also making clear that he himself won’t step aside. “Well certainly, his name ID and the ability to raise money is gonna be there, but we’re Republicans and we believe in the marketplace and choices,” said Seifert. “So I’d say the more people in the race the better. I believe in a multiplicity of choices — it’s not the Politburo, it’s the Republican Party.”

As for what lines of argument Seifert might take with state Republican caucus-goers, to show that he’s the better candidate: “I think my appeal is that I’m electable and that — you know, the bottom line is, I love Norm as a person and as a public servant, but he lost to Al Franken, for goodness’ sake.”I asked Seifert about a thought experiment I’d been doing, putting myself in the shoes of a Minnesota Republican activist — that I would think “we was robbed” in the 2008 Senate race, and a Coleman candidacy for Governor would immediately be an appealing way to put things right again.

“It never should have been close, there never should have been a recount,” Seifert responded. “So most people in the party, I think, are looking at the analysis and saying, we should have never had 42% against Al Franken. It should never have been close to start with. And that’s with all due respect to Sen. Coleman, but it never should have been close.”

But he made sure to finish our call in as nice a way as possible. “I consider Sen. Coleman a good friend. I campaigned with him and worked with him, and it think he’s a good public servant,” said Seifert. “I don’t want anything construed about him that’s negative, and if he gets in the race we’re all gonna have a good friendly competition.”