The DFL Party and their endorsed candidate Erik Simonson are asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to remove state Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth from the November ballot and put Simonson on instead. Gauthier said last month that he was no longer running after he admitted to police that he had a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old boy at a public rest stop near Duluth. Gauthier announced his intentions after the filing period was closed, so he couldn’t remove his name from the ballot.
Democrats endorsed Simonson last weekend. They’re hoping the Supreme Court will agree with their claim and put Simonson’s name on the ballot. The court has posted an accelerated timeline on the case and is asking for all materials to be submitted by Monday.
State law allows candidates for constitutional offices to remove their names from the ballot (see Jon Grunseth) but the law is silent when it comes to legislative candidates. The party would have to launch a write-in campaign if it is unsuccessful in the court challenge.
State DFL Party Chair Ken Martin issued a statement about the petition:
“Our primary concern in filing this petition is ensuring a fair election for the people of District 7B. In every other district in the state this fall, voters will have a chance to choose among candidates who are actively campaigning and who carry the endorsement of a major political party, and it should be no different in Duluth.
“Minnesota statute clearly outlines the process by which a candidate can withdraw from an election, and for an endorsed candidate to appear on the ballot. We have followed that process and are hopeful that the Court will see fit to provide voters in District 7B with a fair election that allows them to choose among those endorsed candidates who are actually seeking their vote and prepared to serve if elected.”
MNGOP Party Chair Pat Shortridge issued a statement saying they oppose the DFL petition:
“The attempt by Ken Martin and the DFL to remove Kerry Gauthier’s name from the ballot should ultimately fail. There is no provision in state law that allows legislative candidates to withdraw from the ballot after the primary. The DFL is once again attempting to rewrite the rules to serve their partisan political ends, an act that even Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has already rejected. The Court should uphold the law and reject it as well.”
Here’s the DFL Party’s petition: