By Don Davis
Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman will not run for office in 2014, meaning there will be no rematch with Al Franken that many Republicans wanted.
In a series of Tweets late Thursday, Coleman said he wants “to mentor a new generation of optimistic, limited government focused leaders who aren’t afraid to find common ground to solve problems.”
Many Republicans had hoped that Coleman would get into the race as Democrat Franken seeks election to a new six-year term next year or challenge Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
Coleman promised to “focus time and energy helping Minnesota elect senator and governor who support free enterprise, efficient government and seek to bring folks together.”
He said that public service is important in his life and will remain so even though his name will not be on the ballot.
The Republican former St. Paul mayor and Democrat Franken fought through a lengthy recount in 2008. Coleman went on to lead a think tank and later became a Washington lobbyist.
He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1998.
Republicans took to Twitter Thursday night to praise Coleman.
“Norm Coleman would have been a formidable candidate for governor; now the GOP field is wide open,” former GOP Chairman Tony Sutton tweeted.
Former state Rep. Jeff Johnson, a Detroit Lakes native and current Hennepin County commissioner, says he is thinking about running for governor. He said he will make up his mind before summer.
Coleman’s announcement leaves Republicans looking for a Senate candidate. U.S. Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen have been considered possibilities. They said they will make up their minds later this year.
Coleman, 64, is a Brooklyn, N.Y. native. He came to Minnesota to work in the state attorney general’s office after receiving his law degree from the University of Iowa.
When he got involved in politics, Coleman was a Democrat. He began serving as St. Paul mayor as a Democrat, then switched in 1996, after two years in city hall.
He was the Republican candidate a three-way governor’s race with Democrat Skip Humphrey and Jesse Ventura of the Reform Party in 1998. Ventura won, but Coleman came back four years later to win the U.S. Senate position.