Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

1/21/2005

What Up, Gut?

While sharing a Boddingtons with Kurt, Susy, Ringer, Jerry, Craig, David and Jo, news was being made relevant to this blog.

1st District Congressman Gil Gutknecht has decided to test the waters on a 2006 Senate bid:

WASHINGTON - Rep. Gil Gutknecht said Thursday he is considering running for U.S. Senate next year, putting his name on a list of potential Republican candidates that already includes fellow Minnesota Rep. Mark Kennedy.

Gutknecht, a 10-year House veteran, has staked out an independent position on some issues, particularly on allowing Americans to import drugs from Canada.

"I recognize I have to make a decision, for sure one way or another, fairly soon," Gutknecht said in an interview at an inaugural reception sponsored by the Minnesota State Society.

"The problem is you're going to have to raise a mountain of money. You've got to get started fairly early." Gutknecht said he hopes to make a decision in the next couple of months.

Republicans think they've got a good shot at knocking off Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., who has a challenging fund-raising situation of his own. Dayton, a wealthy department store heir, spent $12 million of his own money in the 2000 election, but has said he can't afford to self-fund this year. He finished 2004 with just $177,000 in the bank.

Gutknecht, who represents Rochester, said he didn't envision a primary battle with Kennedy. Instead, switching on a "Godfather" voice, Gutknecht said he hoped it would be settled "by a meeting of all the families" - state party leaders and Minnesota Republicans in Congress.

"If you're going to beat an incumbent, I don't think you can afford the luxury of a split party," Gutknecht said, shifting back to his normal voice. "There's something to be said for having a consensus candidate. I'm a believer that as soon as we can, we should coalesce around one candidate."

Kennedy's political resume has excited some Republicans. In 2000, he knocked off incumbent Rep. David Minge, D-Minn., and in 2002, Democratic incumbent Bill Luther changed districts rather than face Kennedy after redistricting put them together.

Kennedy's office did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Former Minnesota U.S. Rep. Vin Weber, now an influential Washington lobbyist, called Gutknecht a strong potential candidate.

"The way he positioned himself the last few years makes him very attractive to a broad range of Minnesotans," Weber said. "He's got kind of the independent, maverick streak Minnesotans like."

But Weber said Kennedy is probably still the front-runner because he's been talking about running for the last couple of years.

"And a lot of people are expecting he'll run, and some have signed up for him," Weber said.
A spokeswoman for Dayton, Chris Lisi, said Dayton is focused on the job of being a senator.

"We're not spending too much time on who may or not be running in 2006," Lisi said.

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