Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon will not seek a second term this fall as the running mate of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
Prettner Solon said Tuesday that it’s time for a new phase in her life. During a news conference, Prettner Solon said she will serve the remainder of her term. The former three-term state senator from Duluth did not offer specifics about her future, other remaining active in public policy and spending more time with family.
Dayton and Prettner Solon met privately Monday to discuss her decision. She said the governor did not try to influence that decision.
“It was a process of weighing the pros and cons of whether I should stay or not stay,” she said. “I think he was not startled. I think he understood.”
Prettner Solon, 67, said she has no regrets about time as lieutenant governor. She said the job gave her an opportunity for me to focus on things that she’s passionate about.
“I think I expected to be more involved in some policy initiatives,” she said. “I found ways to that by through the Center for German and European Studies, by working on senior initiatives, disability initiatives, nutrition initiatives, education initiatives. So, I found a way to fill that void.”
Dayton will now need to find a new running mate for this year’s campaign as he seeks another term. The governor did not attend the announcement. He was traveling to Washington, D.C., for a National Governors Association Executive Committee meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama.
In a written statement, Dayton praised Prettner Solon as a “courageous champion” for the state.
“She has been key to achieving our administration’s primary mission: building a better Minnesota for all citizens,” Dayton said.
One of the six Republican candidates for governor tried to quickly capitalize on the announcement with his own news conference. Former state Rep. Marty Seifert of Marshall said he thinks Dayton’s first-term record has been harmful to rural Minnesota. Seifert said Prettner Solon’s departure is another symptom of that relationship.
“Mark Dayton had a great asset in Yvonne Prettner Solon being a voice for rural Minnesota and it was totally ignored for the past three years, ” Seifert said.
In an interview last year, Prettner Solon said she rarely talked with the governor. During Tuesday’s press conference, she said they often communicate through memos and staff.
“The governor and I talk when we need to,” she said. “The governor has his initiatives that he’s working on. I have my initiatives that I’m working on.”
Prettner Solon may be best known for a 2012 parachute jump to show support for military families. She won the Duluth senate seat that was held by her husband Sam Solon after he died.
The state constitution doesn’t lay out any specific role for the lieutenant governor other than serving out the governor’s term if there is a vacancy. Prettner Solon’s predecessor in the office, Republican Carol Molnau, also served as state transportation commissioner.
In recent history Gov. Arne Carlson also changed running mates when he successfully ran for a second term in 1994.
University of Minnesota Political Scientist Kathryn Pearson said the governor will likely want the same kind of geographic balance that Prettner Solon provided in 2010.
“Electorally, it was extremely helpful to have her on the ticket. After all, she was very popular as a state senator, so that was very helpful,” Pearson said. “That’s certainly something the governor will be looking for as he runs for re-election. But it’s not quite as critical as when he was running for an open seat.”
Some at the Capitol have called for a constitutional amendment to abolish the job of lieutenant governor, a position which by law pays 65 percent of the governor’s salary.
Dayton has declined to talk about his decision to find a replacement. Some names have surfaced, including Tony Sertich, a former DFL House Minority Leader who currently chairs the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board and state Sen. Katie Seiben, DFL-Newport.