Former DFL state lawmaker Matt Entenza formally announced his campaign for governor this morning in Worthington, the town where he grew up.
Entenza says promoting economic development in rural Minnesota is one of his major goals. He says that part of the state is losing ground because of state cutbacks.
"I think the budget's getting balanced on the backs of rural Minnesota," said Entenza. "The reality is some of the wealthiest communities in the Twin Cities, folks there wouldn't really notice a lot of difference -- at least in city services. Rural communities are taking huge hits. We have police departments being shut down across rural Minnesota."
Entenza has already set up a campaign Web site, formed an exploratory committee, and has been traveling the state as a part of his think tank, Minnesota 2020. He left his position as board chair of that organization earlier this week.
Entenza was the DFL endorsed candidate for Attorney General in 2006, but dropped out of the race after it surfaced he paid an investigator to look into fellow DFLer Mike Hatch.
The candidate hedged on whether he would abide by the DFL Party's endorsement process, saying he'll do so if the other candidates do the same. He also didn't rule out using his personal wealth in the campaign, but said he intends to raise money from supporters.
Entenza joins a crowded field of DFL candidates who aspire to be governor. State Sen. John Marty, who was defeated in 1994 by GOP incumbent Arne Carlson, formally announced last week that he will make another run for governor. DFL Rep. Paul Thissen of Minneapolis, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, state Sen. Tom Bakk and former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton are raising money but have not made an official announcement. Bakk said he'll announce after the legislative session. "I've always been a little concerned that if I'm formally in the race, people are going to think that decisions I make here at the Capitol are tainted by a gubernatorial run," Bakk said.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson are the other Democrats who are said to be considering a run for governor.
Gov. Pawlenty wouldn't say Thursday whether he will seek a third term. No one has ever been elected Minnesota governor three times.
Pawlenty's relatively high approval ratings and the potential for a crowded DFL field running in a September primary will could be factors in his decision to run. But there is also a high risk that Pawlenty could lose, especially since he didn't garner more than 50 percent of the vote in 2002 or 2006. If he doesn't run, businessman Brian Sullivan, former State Auditor Pat Anderson, former GOP House Speaker Steve Sviggum and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann are being talked about as possible candidates for the party endorsement.
Both parties will also be watching the Independence Party to see which candidate it will back. Jack Uldrich, who was recently elected party chair, said he will talk with candidates who ran in the past. Uldrich said he will approach Tim Penny, who ran for governor in 2002, and Dean Barkley, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2008. He also said he'll approach business leaders, such as Marilyn Carlson, to see if they have any interest in running.
Uldrich said it isn't fair for Democrats to complain that Independence Party candidates take votes away from the DFL candidate.
"The DFL candidates have fared so poorly. At least we elected a governor in the past decade in Jesse Ventura," Uldrich said.