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IP courting former MN Supreme Court justice for gov’s race

Paul Demko//January 7, 2010//

IP courting former MN Supreme Court justice for gov’s race

Paul Demko//January 7, 2010//

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James Gilbert
James Gilbert

The Independence Party is encouraging former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice James Gilbert to seek the party’s nomination for governor. Jack Uldrich, the party’s chairman, confirms that he’s reached out to Gilbert about a bid for the state’s top office.

“People in the party have spoken about Jim and I’ve spoken with him and I think he’d be an ideal candidate,” says Uldrich, when asked about a possible Gilbert candidacy. “I have not been in contact with him for the last six weeks, so I do not know where his thinking is in this process.”

Dean Barkley, who was the IP’s U.S. Senate candidate in 2008, also confirms that he’s heard speculation about a possible Gilbert campaign. “I’ve heard the same rumors,” says Barkley. “I haven’t met with him.”

(Gilbert did not immediately return a call from PIM seeking comment.)

Gilbert served as an associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1997 to 2004. Prior to that he spent 26 years with the Minneapolis law firm Meshbesher & Spence, rising to the post of chief executive officer.  Currently he runs the Gilbert Mediation Center. Among the prominent lawyers affiliated with the firm: first lady Mary Pawlenty and former governor Wendell Anderson.

So far the only registered IP candidate for governor is Rahn Workcuff, a frequent contestant for various political offices. But last month veteran political consultant Tom Horner confirmed that he was considering seeking the IP endorsement.  And Barkley, who ran Jesse Ventura’s successful 1998 gubernatorial campaign, also is not ruling out a run for the state’s top office. He says the chief determinant would be whether he can raise enough money to be competitive.

“I’m thinking about it,” Barkley says. “I’m not sure I want to strap on the kneepads one more time.”

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