No eventual major party nominee over the last four Minnesota U.S. Senate elections had announced their candidacy at this point in the election cycle

Although Minnesota Republicans are not exactly flocking in droves to take on 1-term Minnesota DFL U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar in 2012, it is a bit premature to read into the dearth of candidacies as a sign the GOP believes it has little chance to take the seat.

There are 642 days until Election Day, and recent Minnesota history suggests it could take a while longer for official candidacies to be announced.

· Senator Klobuchar herself did not announce her candidacy until April 18, 2005 – some 568 days before the 2006 election.

· Klobchar’s 2006 GOP opponent for Mark Dayton’s open seat – Mark Kennedy – announced his candidacy on February 11, 2005 (634 days in advance of the election).

· Minnesota’s junior Senator, Al Franken, had not yet announced his intention to run against Norm Coleman at this point in the 2008 cycle either – waiting until Valentine’s Day in 2007, or 629 days before Election Day.

· Dean Barkley of the Independence Party did not file his FEC paperwork in the 2008 election until July 25 of that year, a mere 102 days before voters went to the polls.

· Republican Norm Coleman waited until February 11, 2002 before deciding to challenge Paul Wellstone, or just 267 days before the election.

· Mark Dayton played his cards close to the vest for a long stretch as well – not announcing his candidacy against Republican incumbent Rod Grams until April 3, 2000, or just 218 days before that contest.

Minnesota’s other two Senators during the last 16 years – Rod Grams and Paul Wellstone – had also not announced their intention to run for U.S. Senate at this stage in the election cycle.

Grams – a newly-minted Freshman U.S. Representative at the time – announced on December 2, 1993 he would be a candidate for Dave Durenberger’s open seat, or 11 months before his eventual 1994 victory.

Wellstone gave himself a little more time: announcing his 1990 bid against Rudy Boschwitz in April of 1989, or 19 months before Election Day.

For the record, Minnesota electoral history gives Senator Klobuchar a two in three chance of retaining her seat next year.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.