Early poll, though omitting candidates, suggests Coleman's wait-and-see approach is working
A new Rasmussen poll of 330 likely Republican primary voters in the Gopher State finds 50 percent want former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman to be their nominee.
Or do they?
To the chagrin of several candidates running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, not all Republican Party hopefuls were listed in the Rasmussen polling question (which was conducted on November 10th).
In fact, two of the four names listed in the survey have given no official indication they are even going to be running in the gubernatorial race: Norm Coleman and State Representative Laura Brod (though neither Coleman nor Brod have completely closed the door on such a run).
In the new poll, 50 percent cited Coleman as their preference, with 11 percent naming former House Minority Leader Rep. Marty Seifert, 5 percent preferring Brod, and 1 percent supporting State Representative Tom Emmer - the only four choices given to respondents. Twenty-six percent were unsure.
That left off candidates such as former State Auditor Pat Anderson, State Senator David Hann, former State Representative David Haas, as well as long-shot candidates Phil Herwig and Leslie Davis.
Although Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer have alternately fared well in various straw polls conducted throughout the state this year, no doubt name recognition played a significant factor in Coleman being the apparent preference of Republicans at this early stage in the 2010 race in the Rasmussen poll.
And as for Coleman's potential 2010 run?
During his concession speech for the U.S. Senate race on June 30th, Coleman stated he would make an announcement on his plans shortly after the July 4th weekend.
But no announcement came.
After more than three weeks of silence from the Coleman camp, on the evening of July 26th Smart Politics outlined several reasons why it was not in Coleman's interest to announce his 2010 plans at this early stage:
· First, announcing too early would emphasize Coleman's 'career politician' image and smack of desperation coming out of the 2008 contest.
· Secondly, launching a gubernatorial campaign so soon after his Senate bid ended would not be the most prudent way to re-approach donors and kick off a fundraising campaign, after recently asking them to contribute several millions of dollars during his Senate reelection bid and recount efforts.
· Third, with former Congressman Jim Ramstad out of the running, Coleman could bide his time knowing he would be by far the biggest name in the GOP race and have virtually no competition from the left side of the party for the nomination.
· Fourthly, in an effort to shed the 'professional politician' moniker to the greatest extent possible, it was in Coleman's interest to make it seem as if he is being 'recruited' to run for governor. Poll results like Rasmussen's give Coleman just that.
The day after the Smart Politics blog was posted, on July 27th, Coleman's spokesperson said the former Senator would likely wait until March or April 2010 to announce his plans, seemingly following the Smart Politics strategy to a 'T'. (No, Smart Politics does not have a mole in the Coleman camp).
In the meantime, it is clear the announced GOP candidates are not going to be paralyzed by Coleman's mysterious intentions - appearances are ramping up for the Republican hopefuls, as the field begins to narrow (State Senator Mike Jungbauer and State Representative Paul Kohls have dropped out of the race in recent weeks).
Whether or not Coleman will ultimately have 50+ percent of the support of the GOP electorate across the state by the time the Republican primary takes place remains to be seen, but the Rasmussen poll suggests there is little harm in the Senator's wait-and-see strategy for the moment.
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