Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006

3/02/2005

Avoiding the Draft

Is Gil Gutknecht out the door?

Word on the 1st Congressional District corner is that Gutknecht still hasn’t made up his mind on what exactly he’ll be announcing on March 4th. But Gutknecht’s campaign manager has hinted that Gil’s days representing the 1st may be at an end. According to our source, Gutknecht is weighing only three options:

* Run for reelection to the House – Gutknecht pledged a 12 year limit in 1994 and has his eyes fixed on higher office (ideally Governor, but potential U.S. Senate). If Gil runs for reelection, expect a stronger effort to run for Governor in 2010, assuming Pawlenty wins in 2006 and doesn’t seek a third term.

* Run for U.S. Senate – Despite Kennedy’s obvious head start on endorsements and statewide organization, Gutknecht is still mulling a Senate race. If he does run however, he will not return to the House, regardless of the outcome.

* Retire – According to Gutknecht’s campaign manager, retirement is an option on the table without seeking the Senate seat. Whether this means Gutknecht is contemplating retiring from Minnesota politics completely is unknown and probably unlikely given Gil’s ambitions. But it is telling that retirement is considered a serious option by the Gutknecht camp.


News that two of Gil’s three personal options involve him leaving the Congress, 1st District GOP leadership and activists have been scrambling to prepare for his absence. While Rep. Gregory Davids (R-Preston), the Speaker Pro Tempore in the House has been rumored for the seat, some GOP activists are considering drafting a candidate to replace Gutknecht if necessary. Concerns have been raised about holding the seat without the incumbent as the 1st’s GOP index ranks 5th in the state---7th District Congressman Collin Peterson, a conservative DFLer, actually has a higher number of identified Republicans in his district.

So Who might GOP activists be looking to draft for Congress? None other than Lt. Governor Carol Molnau. Formerly representing Chaska in the State Legislature before joining Tim Pawlenty’s ticket in 2002, Molnau was fairly unknown outside the region and has been a quiet Lt. Governor for most of the past three years. Her greatest claim to fame may be that she tossed a (empty) beer keg further than Jesse Ventura at a contest at the State Fair (Ventura was, thankfully, not Governor at the time).

Still, Molnau’s title and credentials would make her a strong Congressional candidate. Is she interested? No one knows and Molnau has never expressed ambitions for higher office. Will she be necessary? Activists in the 1st Congressional GOP hope not.

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