Legislators, city officials, business leaders and renewable energy advocates gathered outside the Capitol to celebrate new laws aimed at boosting solar power production in Minnesota.
After the event, attention centered on three of the participants who've been frequently mentioned as possible candidates for governor. The list has been growing since Tuesday when Gov. Tim Pawlenty said he would not seek a third term.
DFL House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher of Minneapolis confirmed what many have been speculating for months -- that she considering a run for governor in 2010.
"I continue to have experiences like last night, where my daughter and I were out for her birthday, and a random person comes up to me and says, 'I hope you run for governor,'" said Kelliher. "So, I am weighing those inquires -- that are daily -- very seriously."
Kelliher said she thinks serious candidates will have to be in the race by fall. There's no longer an incumbent in the mix, but Kelliher said Pawlenty's decision doesn't change her view of the race.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said he feels the same way.
"It's very clear that Minnesota needs to head in a different direction," Coleman said. "Whether the governor was part of that equation or not, was not part of the analysis."
Coleman said he's definitely considering a campaign for governor, but he stressed his focus is on his responsibilities as mayor. He's running for re-election for that office this November.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he's taking a similar approach. Rybak, who's also seeking another term as mayor in November, said he'll decide if he's running for governor when the time is right.
"I don't think there's any magic formula on how this works. What's most important is for me to do my job right. And I have a huge job in front of me on budget and creating jobs, and that's where I'm keeping my focus," said Rybak.
"But I absolutely have looked at it. And I think it gets kind of phony when people try to pretend that they don't. You bet I've looked at it," Rybak continued. "But right now I've got a tough job ahead of me, and we'll just have to see how the next few months go." There are nearly a dozen Democrats who are either running for governor or are considering a campaign.
On the Republican side, two more people say they're considering a run for governor.
State Sen. Paul Koering of Fort Ripley and businessman Brian Sullivan both said today they're weighing their options.
Sullivan, who lost the GOP endorsement to Pawlenty in 2002, says he'll probably make a decision in a month.
"Because it's an open seat, there will be a lot of people who'll hesitate to commit this early in the process," Sullivan said. "I'll be making enough contacts to have people that would be inclined to support me, to hold off committing until the race gets farther along."
Sen. Koering says his consideration of the 2010 contest will include the formation of an exploratory committee. In a news release, Koering said the state needs a chief executive who can work with both parties.
Another dozen or so Republicans are potential candidates, along with at least three Independence Party candidates who have expressed interest.