While Mayor R.T. Rybak's recent breakfast meeting with comedian, author and radio show host Al Franken and his visit to a dairy farm an hour and a half outside the city might fuel speculation that he's thinking about a run for Senate in 2008, spokesman Jeremy Hanson said the mayor has “not taken a single step toward developing a Senate campaign.”
“There are a lot of other people talking about him as a candidate, but he's really focused on finishing the job that he came to City Hall to do,” Hanson said.
The breakfast was focused more on Franken's potential run for Senate, Hanson said. Franken is seriously considering a run for the seat, and Rybak used the meeting to explain that he's focused on running the city and hasn't taken any steps toward running for Senate, Hanson said. Rybak and Franken do talk on occasion and stay in touch with one another, Hanson said.
“Part of it is that the mayor and Al Franken know each other and they are at a number of events [together] and they are both high-profile within the party. But they also talked about the 2008 race,” Hanson said. “I think the conversation was a combination of ‘How are you doing these days?' and about Al Franken's potential run.”
Hanson also noted that Rybak's recent visit to Litchfield to visit a dairy farm was not a sign of statewide political ambition. The mayor's trip was at the invitation of Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-18B), Hanson said, and was similar to trips Rybak took to Moorhead earlier this year and to Duluth recently. The mayor spoke with legislators on each trip and underscored the issues Minneapolis has in common with smaller municipalities across the state, such as cuts in local government aid and a desire for increased transportation funding.
“At this point, it's about the city's legislative interests and building relationships with legislators across the state,” Hanson said.
Fending off speculation about a potential Senate run isn't new for Rybak. His office quashed speculation in February that he might run for Senate after a St. Paul Pioneer Press article speculated that he would be a strong contender to run against U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman.