Republican gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert admitted last week that releasing his budget balancing plan for Minnesota in the middle of March is a bit out of the ordinary. But it appears Seifert is ahead of the game, at least in some respects.
For starters, he's the only candidate so far to have named his lieutenant governor. And now, he's the only one to have put out there a comprehensive, detailed - and quite bold - proposal on how he plans on going about fixing the state's financial problems.
Whether or not his decision will fall under the boon or backfire category remains to be seen.
"It's risky," said Southwest Minnesota State University Political Science professor David Sturrock. "You're inviting the rest of the world to look for things to nit-pick and to be taken out of context. Putting out a detailed plan at this point in the campaign is pretty bold."
But, as Sturrock said, there can also be advantages to Seifert's strategy.
"I think he believes it plays to his advantage in running for the Republican endorsement his argument being he is the more knowledgeable candidate among the Republicans, and this is his way of demonstrating that. He wants to demonstrate his leadership and confidence; he would be assuming the voters appreciate candor and specifics from their candidates. This will be an interesting test of that theory."
Part of what makes Seifert's move bold are some of the very proposals he made in the plan, such as combining state agencies like the Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency, or reforming General Assistance Medical Care to the tune of $146 million, or wiping out the Statewide Health Improvement Program - the "fat police" as he called it in his budget plan - a comprehensive health care reform package that was designed to help Minnesotans live longer, healthier lives by reducing the burden of chronic diseases through increasing physical activity, improving nutrition and reducing tobacco use. The program was signed into law just two years ago and is an expanded version of the Steps to a HealthierMN model. Seifert said the state can save $27 million by getting rid of it.
You can't blame Seifert for his boldness and his apparent attempt to prove his leadership skills. But we wonder, will the flame he has so quickly ignited burn out well before primaries, leaving him in a position to have to continuously backtrack and remind voters over and over again what his plans are? And would that even be a bad thing for Seifert? And has he opened too wide the door for sharp criticism from his rivals - criticism that could rear its head repeatedly as long as Seifert remains in the hunt.