MARSHALL - Marty Seifert isn't the first political candidate to visit all 87 counties in Minnesota, but he's the only Republican gubernatorial candidate to do it.
Roughly a month before the primaries, Seifert wrapped up his 87-county campaign this week in Carlton County.
He said when he announced his bid for the GOP nomination that he would do it, and he did. And he said he felt a genuine feeling of appreciation from folks who aren't used to seeing candidates stroll through town.
"The newspaper reporter in Ada said he's been there over 30 years and never had a candidate for governor fly into their airport," Seifert said. "At every single place we went they were very appreciative of the fact that I came there and didn't just send a staffer or lieutenant governor candidate."
Seifert said touring the entire state pays off in many ways. It lets people in remote areas of the state get to know him and lets him get to know the people and their issues. He said reaching out to rural areas of the state is important given Gov. Mark Dayton's Minneapolis-heavy ticket.
"You get your message to every corner of the state, but for me, it's as much listening as anything," he said. "There's a lot of uniqueness in Minnesota. The people in Baudette are different than the people in Winona in terms of local issues. Inner-city Minneapolis is different than Grand Marais."
Seifert touts the fact that not only did he hit every county in the state, he did so after jumping into the race months after his opponents had established themselves as candidates.
"The other candidates are not going places; are they coming to Marshall or staying away because I'm from there? I got into the race six, seven months after the others - they had a big head start," Seifert said. "Now we're sitting here 30 days from the primary and they have to make a value judgement: Do we have to catch up to Seifert or concede areas he made it to?"
Seifert said the news this week that state revenues ran $168 million ahead of projections is good but also said not everything is as rosy as some would make it out to be.
"Is it good news? Sure," he said. "Nobody wants to read about deficits and chronic budgetary problems. But on the flip side, my thought is, 'How is the average family doing? How about the average person driving from Garvin, Minnesota, to Marshall making ice cream at Schwan's, the people struggling to make ends meet? How are they doing?'"
He said Minnesotans are still facing struggles with underemployment, skyrocketing health insurance premiums and higher fees and taxes.
"We certainly want good news about the budget, but I'm worried about the family budget more than the government's budget," he said.