Prettner Solon steps aside; Dayton’s DFL crossroads

Minnesota politicsMoments ago, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon (D-MN) announced she would not be joining Gov. Mark Dayton’s ticket for re-election this year. The announcement leaves Dayton with a decision about who should replace her to run with him at the top of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party ballot.

As I’ve written before, and two names continue to rise to the top of the rumor mill: Current IRRRB Commissioner and former DFL House Majority Leader Tony Sertich and State Sen. Katie Sieben (DFL-Minneapolis).

Make no mistake, Dayton will make this decision on his own for his own strategic reasons. But there are two lines of thinking here. Does Dayton do what the DFL candidate would normally do: balance a metro governor with a greater Minnesota candidate? That would be the Sertich option. Minnesota’s Iron Range is a historic source of DFL labor votes. It still is, to a degree. Population losses here, however, have greatly diminished the Range’s electoral oomph, something we’ve seen in recent years as elections have been decided in the cities and suburbs.

Seiben would provide gender balance but ignore the regional balance. And maybe running up metro votes is the key to DFL victories from now on. Maybe … but probably not quite yet.

It seems to me that the DFL is very strong in the state’s cities — not only Minneapolis and St. Paul, but increasingly in the regional cities of Duluth, Rochester and Mankato. For that reason, a regional name — like Duluth Mayor Don Ness, might be the logical compromise. Ness, for his part, flatly denies wanting any part of running for Lt. Governor. It bears mentioning, though, that Prettner Solon was a Duluth state senator before being Lt. Governor.

Let’s not forget, the reason this story exists at all is because the office of Lt. Gov. is usually a stepping stone to nothing. Occasionally, however, it finds relevance that merits this amount of attention.

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