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Seifert says he'll run with Sivarajah

ST. PAUL — A county official who says she voted for Democrat Bill Clinton for president before finding her way into the Republican fold accepted a spot Thursday on GOP gubernatorial hopeful Marty Seifert's ticket.

Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah gives the veteran state legislator from southwestern Minnesota a teammate with a foothold outside the Capitol and a bigger presence in the vote-rich suburbs.

Seifert is the first among the cluster of candidates to make a lieutenant governor pick. He is in a tight race with Rep. Tom Emmer for the Republican endorsement, with a handful of others far back. Gov. Tim Pawlenty isn't seeking another term.

"I was looking for someone who would shake things up when necessary, take on the status quo when necessary, reduce the size and scope of government, reflect my values and reflect the values of Minnesotans," Seifert said.

Naming Sivarajah now gives Seifert an extra set of shoes on the ground as the campaigns work Republican gatherings ahead of April's state endorsing convention.


Sivarajah has been a county commissioner for seven years and represents Republican-leaning places such as Blaine, Centerville and Lino Lakes. Technically, her office is nonpartisan.

But Sivarajah, 44, has left little doubt where she falls. She opposed efforts to hike area taxes to pay for a proposed Minnesota Vikings stadium in her county, and said counties like hers could stand to lean up if another round of state aid cuts go through. Local aid cuts are a key part of Pawlenty's plan to solve a $1.2 billion deficit.

"This is not the time to just tweak government around the edges," Sivarajah said.

Jeremy Powers, who has been active in Anoka-area Democratic politics for almost two decades, said Sivarajah hasn't been a very visible figure on the county board.

"I don't know what the heck they are trying to gain with that," said Powers, chairman of a local Democratic unit. "She's not even that well-known in her own district. I'm actually quite shocked."

Seifert and Sivarajah met two years ago at a fundraising picnic for fiscal hawks. He said he would use her as a liaison with local governments if they win office.

Sivarajah's campaign experience extends beyond her own runs for office. In 2006, she managed the unsuccessful congressional campaign of Republican Phil Krinkie.

Sivarajah is married to a police officer and has two children.

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