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Lanning considering run for governor

Morrie Lanning was Moorhead's mayor for 22 years and a city councilman for six years before that.

The Republican has served as a state representative for the past seven years.

During his time in public service, people have urged him to aim even higher.

Why not run for governor? Some have asked.

It's a question Lanning is again giving some thought to in the wake of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's announcement that he will not seek a third term.

"It opens the door for me to be thinking about that possibility," said Lanning, who added that Pawlenty's news came as a surprise.

"The way the governor has been working and acting in recent times, I felt like he was working for re-election," Lanning said. Pawlenty was particularly engaged in helping flood-fighting efforts, he said.

"I think he did an exceptional job of supporting us and helping us with flood mitigation and recovery. It was quite the opposite of what Arnie Carlson was like after the 1997 flood," Lanning said.

When it comes to talk of him making his own bid for the governor's mansion, Lanning said he remains undecided.

"I'm going to be thinking about it and considering all the factors that need to be considered," he said, including the financial challenges involved in running a statewide campaign.

Lanning, first elected to the Moorhead City Council in 1973, ran for mayor in 1979 and won.

He was re-elected many times, but in 2001 he decided not to run again.

Then, fellow Republican Kevin Goodno announced he would not seek re-election to the Minnesota House District 9A seat.

Lanning ran for the seat and won.

Now in his seventh year in the state Legislature, Lanning said one of his top accomplishments was achieved this past session, when more than $53 million was dedicated to flood mitigation, much of it in Moorhead and Clay County.

An additional $17.6 million in state funds also was set aside to cover flood expenses not covered by the federal government.

Lanning said as mayor he helped many things come to fruition in Moorhead, including a new water plant, bridges and a hotel conference center.

"A whole other area has to do with water management," Lanning said. Thirty years ago, he helped start what is now known as the Red River Basin Commission, an organization that could play an important role in the development of flood-control projects in the Red River Valley.

"Flooding, of course, is the biggest concern right now. But we also have a history of drought here," Lanning said. "The next drought that comes along, the Red River could stop flowing, as it has in the past."