MARSHALL - Riding high from a successful showing at Farmfest this week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert was looking forward to capping off the debate portion of the run-up to primary with a WCCO debate that was scheduled for Thursday night.
Apparently, he was the only one.
Candidates Jeff Johnson, Kurt Zellers and Scott Honour made the decision to pull out of the debate, leaving only Seifert, who instead of debating on WCCO on Thursday night, was scheduled to join WCCO's Chad Hartman for an afternoon segment.
"Everybody pulled out but me," Seifert said. "We're under the belief they don't want to debate me anymore because we did so well at Farmfest. But we really never got a good reason why they bailed."
Is there a chance for another debate before Friday? Although it seems highly unlikely one would take place, Seifert is open and willing to get together for one more.
"We still have four days; if they want to come back on WCCO at a different time that works they can have their own campaign manager moderate if they want."
Seifert believes momentum is on his side for a big night in Tuesday's primary election, but he knows his success could hinge on voter turnout.
"I feel good about it; we just don't know about the turnout," he said. "If we can crank out high turnout in our strong areas that's the key. If someone thinks they might be gone on Tuesday, they should go vote now. The turnout model is 10 to 15 percent, which is really bad, but think of the impact if Lincoln, Lyon and Yellow Medicine counties had 50 percent. That would be eye-popping success. It's in the hands of the people now."
Seifert said the largest segment of undecided primary voters lies in the metro area. And, unfortunately, he said, undecided voters won't be able to use any more debates to help form their opinion. The four candidates debated just once in June (on Almanac), then again in late July for with Minnesota Public Radio, then this week's Farmfest.
A message left with Zellers on Thursday was not returned.
Seifert has chosen Mankato for his campaign's primary party, saying it's a "happy medium" between his roots in southwest Minnesota and the metro media. This way, he said, his supporters won't have to drive all the way to the Twin Cities.