Prettner-Solon may not run for Lt. Gov. again, so let’s speculate

Minnesota’s DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is running for re-election next year, and four Republicans are running to challenge him. But this MinnPost story shows that Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner-Solon, a former state senator from Duluth, doesn’t seem very interested in running for her job again. A combination of proximity to retirement age and what seems to be the soul-sucking uselessness of the Lt. Governorship seem to be discouraging her.

Prettner-Solon doesn’t say she won’t run, but it’s hard to imagine someone who gave this interview deciding she’d like to go out on the trail one more time.

If Prettner-Solon doesn’t run, Dayton will have to select a new running mate. Prettner-Solon actually was a good selection for him the first time around. She covered a lot of electoral bases, and was part of the reason he won that tight primary against Margaret Anderson Kelliher in 2010.

The Lt. Gov. job seems to have only one positive function: it’s a stepping stone to statewide politics, and a potentially useful place for someone to do something specific. And it’s only the potential, because as the story about Prettner-Solon shows it’s pretty easy for the Lt. Gov. to be lost in the shuffle of the administration’s duties. It’s certainly happened to Lt. Governors in the past. The old joke is that the position’s only duties are to inquire daily as to the health of the governor, as really we only hear about Lt. Governors when governors resign or die.

So, should we even speculate on who Gov. Dayton selects? Or who the eventual Republican nominee selects? Does it matter? Well, a little, so let’s go.

The main thing Dayton can do here is bring on a good campaigner who can help him with 2014 race and who represents someone he’d like to see possibly succeed him someday, if he wins.

Looking out at the DFL pool, there are a number of candidates who might fit the bill. For instance, take a look at the large number of people who clambered to run or consider running for Secretary of State once Mark Ritchie announced his upcoming retirement. Most of them didn’t run, but they all tipped their cards that they are looking for higher office. The current DFL field includes Reps. Debra Hillstrom and Steve Simon and former Rep. Jeremy Kalin.

It could be argued that there is a lot of talent concentrated in that SOS race that doesn’t need to be burned up in a debates over who is more in favor of people voting. Considering that Steve Simon has a professional background in election law, could Dayton not unjam things by selecting the ambitious go-getter Debra Hillstrom as his running mate?

Or he could go to the north, geographically balancing things (a bit, anyway). Duluth Sen. Roger Reinert considered a run for SOS, though ultimately settled that he’d prefer to remain in Duluth. He holds the same seat that Prettner-Solon had when she was selected.

On the Range, you’ve got young and old back benchers who might relish the opportunity — Rep. Carly Melin or Tom Anzelc (disclosure, I am his campaign manager and he has never suggested any interest in this). Rep. Paul Marquart out west, Rep. Joe Radinovich in Crosby, Mayor Don Ness in Duluth, or maybe he wants to fire things up and bring Iron Range firebrand Tom Rukavina out of his early retirement?

Dayton could look to a host of former DFL representatives that lost tough races in 2010. Maria Ruud was a well-respected name in the legislature from that time.

He could make a dramatic selection of a more atypical public figure, one who might represent some part of a second term agenda. Hey, isn’t R.T. Rybak wrapping up his stint as mayor of Minneapolis? Another former rival Margaret Anderson Kelliher has served as Dayton’s point person on broadband issues as well. Hmmm.

Speculating is fun, and we don’t know what Prettner-Solon or Dayton will do. It might not matter much in the long run, but there is a small chance that Dayton’s selection will have an increased influence on the 2014 and 2018, and so we’ll see if there are any strategic moves or backroom shuffles that take place in coming months.

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