Two names emerge for Duluth DFL senate slot

Yesterday I raised the question of who might run for the DFL nomination for state senate in District 7 now that Yvonne Prettner Solon is running for Lt. Gov. with Mark Dayton. This district is wholly enclosed within the city of Duluth and the person who holds that seat becomes a very important leader in the policy and economic development of the region. Candidate speculation was pretty quiet and all of the media talk seems to be focusing on two names, one of which I also floated.

State Rep. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) who represents the blue collar west side of the city and downtown has distinguished himself as an effective lawmaker and strong campaigner in his first term. He seems a logical choice to move “up” (sorry House members) to the Senate. But then yesterday in her Lt. Gov. howdy-do speech Prettner Solon said she’ll be backing City Councilor Patrick Boyle for her seat. I don’t know Boyle as well or much about him, other than he’s the son of former Wisconsin Assemblyman Frank Boyle from Superior. I interviewed the elder Boyle several times when I worked for KUWS, the Wisconsin Public Radio affiliate in Superior. Frank is short, mustachioed and outspoken, the Wisconsin version of Tom Rukavina. His son does not have a mustache and that’s about all I know. I’m sure I’ll get a chance to talk to him at some point.

What’s interesting is that Prettner Solon went so far as to indicate a preference for a successor in her speech. Additionally interesting is that Patrick Boyle told the media he’s still thinking about it and doesn’t want a primary fight. I don’t see how Boyle (or, frankly, anyone) beats Reinert in a primary if Reinert runs, but if Reinert holds off his decision until next week it will create a situation where the DFL is going to have a clear field for either Reinert or Boyle. In essence, Prettner Solon froze the primary field. Not sure if that was intentional, but if it was it’s pretty damn brilliant.

Unless, of course, I’m wrong. I am that sometimes.


  1. Anonymous says

    I’m a DFL activist in St. Paul, but I grew up in the Duluth area so I feel somewhat qualified to comment on this situation.

    Reinert is the clear choice for SD 7. He’s already been given a considerable amount of responsibility for a freshman legislator (Vice Chair of the Tax Committee) and he’s developed a well-deserved reputation for being a workhorse, not a showhorse. I don’t know Prettner Solon well, so I can only guess as to why she’d prefer Boyle, but it seems logical for Boyle to file for Reinert’s vacant House seat instead, if he can.

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