Coleman: 'I haven't yet made a decision about the future'by Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — We now know that Norm Coleman won't be representing Minnesota in the U.S. But what does the future hold for the former senator?
In conceding the contest to Al Franken on Tuesday, Coleman declined to speculate about what he'll do next. But several analysts say he could be a force in the 2010 governor's race.
Now that Norm Coleman's political present is over - the focus is on his political future. For weeks, Coleman declined to speculate on whether he's considering a run for governor in 2010. He repeatedly told reporters that he wouldn't consider it until the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled on his legal appeal. Now that the court ruled against him, Coleman is regrouping but still isn't talking.
"I haven't yet made a decision about the future," Coleman said. "Let's address the future another day. I wanted to address today and put closure on this election, the longest election in Minnesota history, and to move forward."
While Coleman isn't talking now, he may reveal his plans soon.
"We'll get through July 4," he said. "Sometime next week, I'll be talking a little bit about what the future is."
Coleman has run for governor before - losing to Jesse Ventura in 1998. But University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs said no one should discount Coleman's chances at statewide office.
"The sooner that Norm Coleman jumps into the governor's race, the harder it is for the other Republican candidates to get a toe hold," Jacobs said.
Jacobs said Coleman's name recognition, his experience at statewide campaigning and his prodigious fundraising puts him in the top tier of Republicans seeking to replace Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty announced last month that he won't seek a third term, setting off a mad scramble among GOP candidates.
Jacobs said Coleman's biggest problem is that voters may be tired of him. He lost a run for governor in 1998, won his Senate seat in 2002 and lost a long, drawn out race in 2008. But Jacobs said the party should take him seriously.
"Politics is always comparative shopping," Jacobs said. "I think when Republicans get down to really comparing the candidates they have, with the passage of some time, and some rehabilitation of Norm Coleman, they're really going to appreciate his strengths."
But Coleman is by no means a shoo-in if he decides to run for governor. Incoming Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton said it's up to the activists to decide who should win the GOP endorsement. Sutton said Coleman didn't always toe the party line as a senator but did what's best for Minnesota.
"Look, there's always a place for people in the party," Sutton said. "We have a party that has all different kinds of folks in it. I think as long as Senator Coleman wants to be an active, vigorous member of the Republican Party, there will always be a place for him."
There are as many as twelve Republicans who are either running or are considering a run for governor. There are at least ten Democrats who are also considering a run.
- Morning Edition, 07/01/2009, 6:50 a.m.