Former Speaker Kurt Zellers looks surprised (
by Tony Petrangelo
Jun 22, 2013, 10:00 AM

The Weekly Wrap 6-22

♣ It happens tomorrow! The big announcement! Tomorrow!!

What am I talking about you, quite rightly, may be asking. Well, it’s this thing about which I’m talking:

Kurt Zellers, the former Republican Speaker of the Minnesota House, is set to announce his political plans on Sunday – and it appears he intends to run for governor. Zellers has told reporters that he’s interested in running. A check of the website,, also directs people to his political page.

That’s right, the Profile in Courage himself is going to be announcing something, probably that he’s running for Governor, but who knows really, he could announce that he’s half Manatee; the point is we just don’t know.

Except that everyone already seems to know.

Zellers house district 34B doesn’t become a top target if Zellers doesn’t run for another term, but it certainly becomes a more viable target as an open seat then it is now, so hey, silver lining.

Also, in that same report:

Zellers isn’t the only Republican set to announce his political plans next week. GOP state Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville,  told MPR News that he’ll make an announcement on Wednesday morning. Thompson is also considering a run for governor.

Thompson has reportedly already hired a consultant, so an announcement of a run seems all but inevitable.

♣ There have been many names floating around of Republicans who may challenge Al Franken in 2014, yet so far only some random business person, Mike McFadden, has announced. This week one prospective candidate took himself out while another, unexpected name, jumped in.

Sadly, Jason Lewis has decided not to run against Al Franken, depriving us of what might have been the most hilarious Senate race in ages.

The unexpected name getting into the race is Republican Representative Jim Abeler of district 35A, a district that goes from being essentially off the map in 2014 with Abeler as an incumbent, to being on the ragged fringes of competitiveness as an open seat.

♣ Last Saturday was the Minneapolis DFL convention, wherein the main order of business was to endorse a candidate for Mayor. As predicted in these electronic pages, and virtually everywhere else for that matter, the winner of the endorsement was “no endorsement.”

The biggest surprise of the convention, in my mind, was the performance of Mark Andrew who lead in voting the whole way.

The biggest surprise in the aftermath of the convention, in my mind, was the dropping out of the race altogether of Gary Schiff. A move that forced me to reminisce about former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s aborted bid for President.

Shortly after the convention Schiff’s campaign manager resigned, saying:

If there was a path to victory, I would have been willing to stay. I personally did not see a path to victory on Saturday night’s results.

As crazy as it may sound, and it certainly sounds crazy, winning the DFL convention may have been Schiff’s “path to victory” all along.

The three top vote getters; Mark Andrew, Betsy Hodges and Gary Schiff all came to Drinking Liberally over the course of a couple months at the beginning of the year. I asked campaign people for all three campaigns about the convention and what their expectations were.

The Andrew and Hodges people were very realistic about the chances of there actually being an endorsement. Campaign people for both camps said roughly the same thing; we’re certainly going to try and win the endorsement, but we think the most likely outcome is no endorsement.

On the other hand, Schiff’s campaign people were certain that they were going to win the endorsement. At the time I thought it seemed a little odd, but I just chalked it up to the blind exuberance of the campaign bubble.

Now though, I wonder if, crazy as if sounds, winning the endorsement was the Schiff campaign’s sole strategy all along.

♣ Even though Gary Schiff dropped out, there are still 237 people running for Mayor of Minneapolis. That may have been a slight exaggeration, but not by much. Here is a far from comprehensive list:

  • Betsy Hodges
  • Mark Andrew
  • Jim Thomas
  • Don Samuels
  • Jackie Cherryhomes
  • Cam Winton

♣ Representative Debra Hilstrom has announced that she will seek the DFL endorsement for Secretary of State. She has a website up as well.

♣ There has been some news concerning Minnesota’s First Congressional district as well, GOP Representative Mike Benson has announced a challenge to incumbent DFLer Tim Walz.

And on the same front former Senator Al DeKruif has said he will announce his plans on whether to seek the same office by the end of July.

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