ST. PAUL -- St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman raised more than $85,000 since August toward a possible second bid for governor, according to campaign reports he filed Wednesday.
Coleman, who finished second to Gov. Jesse Ventura in 1998, reported collections of $87,947 for the entire year, but only a couple of contributions were made before he announced at the Republican National Convention that he was exploring another run.
Most of the contributions were in $250 or $500 installments.
"You could make a pretty sound argument that there is still a great deal of support out there for the mayor," said Erich Mischke, a Coleman political adviser.
The Coleman committee spent $41,048 in 2000, including about $7,200 for opinion surveys. The committee finished the year with $69,571.
Several Republicans are quietly considering a run for governor, but Coleman is the only one to collect money under the auspices of an exploratory committee. Entrepreneur Brian Sullivan is courting likely delegates who will nominate the party's candidate in 2002, but he hasn't filed papers with the state.
Sullivan donated $50,000 to the state Republican party and another $2,500 to Senate Republicans.
Other Republicans mentioned as possible gubernatorial candidates include Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer and U.S. Rep. Gil Gutknecht. Another person often included on that list, House Majority Tim Pawlenty, is now mentioned more prominently with a possible run for U.S. senator in 2002.
No Democrats have officially stepped into the governor's race or formed exploratory committees. Potential candidates include State Auditor Judi Dutcher, Attorney General Mike Hatch and Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe.
Of course, a lot hinges on Ventura, who has said he will delay any decision about his re-election plans until summer 2002.
Ventura has an open campaign account that ended 2000 with a balance of $58,624.
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