UPDATE: Layman won’t seek third term in State House

State Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset)

State Rep. Sandy Layman (R-Cohasset) announced late Tuesday she would not seek another term in the legislature. The surprising news dropped just as the filing period closed, leaving the Republican slot blank if she removes her name from the ballot.

“Anyone in public service knows there is a balance that needs to be struck between our public and private lives,” said Layman in a press release. “I had initially planned to seek a third term but recently I have recognized that now is time for me to have more flexibility to prioritize my private life.”

Layman’s husband suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. For these past four years she’s admirably balanced his care with her work in the legislature.

UPDATE: What follows has been updated

DFL-endorsed Joe Abeyta had filed as Layman’s opponent. Abeyta is a Local 49 operating engineer, Iraq war veteran and LaPrairie city councilor. Though relatively new to politics, he boasts a solid candidate profile

At the last minute Tuesday evening, Spencer Igo filed as the Republican candidate for the race. Igo, from Grand Rapids, is the field representative for U.S. Representative Pete Stauber. Igo’s probably best known in this district as a field worker for various GOP campaigns over recent election cycles.

House District 5B includes a large section of Itasca County and parts of Cass County. Larger towns in the district include Grand Rapids, Coleraine, Cohasset and Deer River. It reaches from the “woods and lakes country” of north central Minnesota into the blue collar towns of the far western Mesabi Iron Range.

Layman won this seat in 2016, defeating DFL incumbent Tom Anzelc with the Donald Trump wave in rural Minnesota. (DISCLOSURE: I was Anzelc’s campaign manager. Tom and I are friends). In 2018, Layman beat former Itasca County Sheriff Pat Medure to win a second term.

In my experience Layman was one of the strongest northern Minnesota legislative candidates fielded by the GOP in recent memory. Both of her wins were hard fought. The race would have been a long reach for the DFL this year.

But Abeyta vs. Igo in an open seat is probably a tossup. Expect significant outside spending in the race.



  1. Gerald S says

    In 2012 the Minnesota Supreme Court allowed the DFL to place Erik Simonson on the official ballot for House District 7B after the incumbent, Kerry Gauthier, resigned after the filing date as a result of a sex scandal. Assuming that no GOP candidate filed at the last minute yesterday — and the Secretary of State website doesn’t show anyone — that would seem to be a precedent to allow the GOP to put a candidate in the 5B spot.

    I am quite puzzled by why Lehman used the timing she did. Perhaps some acute crisis in her personal life led to the late declaration. Or — descending into Machiavellian thinking as I often do — perhaps she prefers to have the candidate selected by the GOP committee rather than allow people to file freely, blocking the candidacy of someone she opposes.

  2. Gerald S says

    Whoa! The plot thickens.

    Layman resigns at the latest possible moment, and a young, relatively unknown GOP insider is standing by to do a very last minute filing just ahead of the deadline. In the process, the insider bypasses a number of officeholders and more experienced politicians who might have been interested in running in a primary had they known Layman was retiring. Plus there is no chance for any bigger name DFLers who had not wanted to run against Layman to jump in either.

    You have to admire the slickness of this inner circle hardball. Elections are so much more awkward than selection by the elect.

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