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GOP party chair field: Many strong potential challengers rule out run

Paul Demko//December 7, 2011

GOP party chair field: Many strong potential challengers rule out run

Paul Demko//December 7, 2011

Steve Sviggum

In the five days since Tony Sutton resigned as chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota, many names have been floated as potential replacements. But only one potential challenger — GOP activist Sue Jeffers — has stated that they’re seriously considering seeking the post. Many others have ruled out a run for the cash-strapped party’s top post.

Former Republican National Committee member Brian Sullivan, whose business ties would be valued, isn’t interested. “I’m not running,” he tells PIM.

Similarly current state party finance chair Bill Guidera isn’t interested in the post. The News Corporation executive is also valued for his fundraising chops.

Former House Speaker Steve Sviggum is  all but ruling  himself out of the mix. “I really haven’t thought about it at any length and my inclination is not to run for the state chair position,” he tells PIM.

Also ruling it out: former state Rep. Paul Kohls, former deputy chair Michael Brodkorb, former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, current deputy chair Kelly Fenton, Bachman staffer Andy Parrish and party activist David FitzSimmons.

Four names continue to garner buzz: Mike Vekich, Pat Shortridge, Brandon Sawalich and Mike Osskopp. Despite a tweet from GOP activist John Gilmore stating that Vekich won’t run, his name is the one most often mentioned by GOP insiders. He’s a former director of the state lottery and was chair of Gov. Tim Pawlenty‘s 21st Century Tax Reform Commission.

Shortridge is a veteran political operative who oversaw Dino Rossi‘s 2010 U.S. Senate campaign in Washington state. He previously worked as chief of staff and campaign manager for former U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy.

Sawalich is vice president of sales for Starkey Labs. He was a candidate for the chair post in 2009, but ultimately dropped out of the contest.

Osskopp is a former House representative from Lake City who also served as district director for U.S. Rep. John Kline.

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