DFL leader moving beyond Gauthier

The top Democrat in the Minnesota House not only wants Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, to end his re-election bid, but he also wants his name off of the November ballot.

House Minority leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, told reporters today that he’s exploring the options under state election law to remove Gauthier’s name.

“It seems to me that there’s a statute that’s pretty clear that creates a mechanism for doing so,” Thissen said.

A law passed after the Republican gubernatorial nominee Jon Grunseth left the race days before the election in 1990 appears to apply only to candidates for constitutional offices.

Police investigated Gauthier for his involvement in a sex act with a 17-year-old boy at a Duluth-area rest stop. Authorities did not press charges against the first-term legislator. But Thissen said in a news release Monday that the conduct was wrong and that he told Gauthier that he should withdraw from the race.

Two DFLers are already planning write-in campaigns. Thissen said he has not talked to either of those candidates. He said he expects a clear path to emerge in the coming days.

“My goal is that we get to a point where we have a unified campaign and that Democrats rally around one individual,” Thissen said. “It’s going to take some additional resources, but those resources are going to be what makes the difference.”

Thissen, who was attending Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign event in Minneapolis, said he thinks Gauthier is still trying to absorb the enormity of the situation. But he added that he expects Gauthier to make a decision about his political future soon.