Rural DFLers could shoot down gun changes at Minnesota Legislature | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

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Published February 08, 2013, 12:00 AM Rural DFLers could shoot down gun changes at Minnesota Legislature The message from Minnesota’s rural Democratic senators about this week’s gun-bill flurry is simple: Don’t expect a warm reception in the Senate. By: Don Davis, … Continue reading


Duluth representative Simonson introduces gun bills in Legislature | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

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Published February 06, 2013, 12:00 AM Duluth representative Simonson introduces gun bills in Legislature Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, has introduced two gun-related bills and signed on as By: Forum News Service report, Forum News Service Rep. Erik Simonson Rep. Erik Simonson, … Continue reading


Budget Deficit, Education Top Priorities for Incoming MN House Rep | Northland’s NewsCenter

Budget Deficit, Education Top Priorities for Incoming MN House Rep January 3, 2013 Updated Jan 3, 2013 at 5:07 PM CST Duluth, MN ( – A budget crisis awaits Minnesota lawmakers as they get to work on the 2013 legislative … Continue reading


Simonson Named to Four House Committees – NewsTalk 610 KDAL AM

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Duluth, MN (KDAL) – State Representative-elect Erik Simonson has been named to four House committees for the 2013-14 biennium. They are: Public Safety Finance and Policy; Taxes; Transportation Policy; and Labor, Workplace and Regulated Industries. Committee assignments were announced Thursday … Continue reading

Minnesota Supreme Court explains its decision on late changes to 7B ballot | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

The Minnesota Supreme Court cited the “paramount interests of voters” Wednesday as the rationale for its decision to allow Democrats to replace Rep. Kerry Gauthier’s name on ballots for the House District 7B election last month.

Six weeks before the election, the court ruled that Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, could pull his name from the ballot in the wake of a rest stop sex scandal and that the party could replace his name with its new endorsed candidate, assistant Duluth fire chief Erik Simonson. At the time, the court offered no explanation for the ruling.

In its opinion Wednesday, the court said it allowed the change because it served “the paramount interests of voters, who are entitled to a ballot that accurately identifies the candidates actually running for office.”

The court found that St. Louis County Auditor Don Dicklich and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie erred in rejecting both Gauthier’s affidavit of withdrawal from the race and Simonson’s affidavit of candidacy. Simonson and DFL Chairman Ken Martin challenged that decision, resulting in the Supreme Court ruling on Sept. 25.

Simonson went on to win the election in November, handily defeating Travis Silvers, the Republican nominee, and Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle, who mounted a write-in campaign after the court rejected his attempt to put his name on the ballot. No write-in candidate has ever been elected to the Minnesota Legislature, and Fosle said his inability to win a place on the ballot “absolutely made a difference” in the election’s outcome.

Simonson did not respond to messages left on his cell phone Wednesday.

The Supreme Court made a distinction between Fosle’s and Simonson’s requests to have their names appear on the ballot. It noted that the DFL selected Simonson to run as its endorsed candidate after a special nominating convention organized after Gauthier announced that he was withdrawing.

Fosle lacked any endorsement.

Fosle argued that if Simonson’s name was to be printed on the ballot, there should be a spot for him, too, and asked in a petition filed Sept. 28 to be identified as “either an Independent or with no party affiliation.”

But the court wrote in its decision that “Fosle presents no evidence that he has been endorsed by the Independence Party, which has endorsed candidates in several other legislative races during this election cycle.” It concluded that listing him as an “Independent” would confuse and possibly mislead voters.

As for Fosle possibly running with no party affiliation, the court cited state statute requiring “that candidates for partisan office who do not seek the nomination of a major party be nominated by petition.” That petition — signed either by 10 percent of eligible voters or 500 residents of the district —would have needed to be submitted by June for a November election.

Fosle said Wednesday he is still considering whether to pursue further legal recourse. He said he is content to continue to serve on the Duluth City Council but has been encouraged by others to file a lawsuit. Fosle described his motivation for considering a suit not as a case of “sour grapes” but as a matter of fighting for principles.

“I’d hate to see anyone else have to go through the BS I did,” he said.

Ritchie issued a statement thanking the Supreme Court for issuing its decision before the legislative session.

“I expect to discuss the decision with local election officials, the Legislature and Governor in (an) effort to clarify elections law pertaining to the withdrawal and replacement of legislative candidates,” Ritchie said.

Dicklich said late changes to the ballot come with additional costs and risks. He pointed out that St. Louis County paid $22,000 to reprint ballots for House District 7B. And Dicklich said he waited until the last moment to proceed with printing the ballots this year, as he waited for the court to rule on Fosle’s request to be listed, as well.

The court handed down its decision not to include Fosle’s name on Oct. 10.

That was too close for comfort, in Dicklich’s eyes.

He said the ruling also seems to benefit candidates endorsed by parties over other late entrants.

“This would be the new reality only for major-party candidates,” he said. “I think a lot of people will ask if the deck is stacked in someone’s favor.”

DFL Chairman Martin disagreed with Dicklich’s suggestion that the Supreme Court justices’ decision somehow favored large parties above others.

“They looked at statutes and very clearly said it was within our prerogative and our power as a state party to nominate a replacement candidate in the event that our nominee would withdraw from the ballot,” he said. “They affirmed the letter of the law.”

If anything, Martin said, the court came down on the side of the voting public.

“We knew that Kerry Gauthier had withdrawn his name and wasn’t able to serve anymore in the Legislature for a variety of reasons. At the end of the day, looking at this ruling confirms the belief we’ve held all along that it would be unfair to the voters of 7B if they weren’t allowed to pick between the nominees of the parties,” Martin said.

via Minnesota Supreme Court explains its decision on late changes to 7B ballot | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Simonson wins race for Kerry Gauthier’s seat in state legislature | Rick Kupchella’s –

DFL endorsed Erik Simonson was the overwhelming winner in the race for Minnesota State House District 7B seat to replace disgraced Rep. Kerry Gauthier, the Duluth News Tribune reports. Simonson, an assistant Duluth fire chief, received 62 percent of the vote. Republican Travis Silvers received about 22 percent and write-in candidate Jay Fosle took the remaining 16 percent.

The Associated Press reports voters in one Duluth precinct received incorrect ballots that listed Kerry Gauthier as the Democratic candidate for state lawmaker. The correct ballots were later delivered to the precinct.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in September Gauthier would not appear on the ballot. He dropped out of the race in August after admitting to a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old boy at a Duluth rest stop.

via Simonson wins race for Kerry Gauthier’s seat in state legislature | Rick Kupchella’s –

Disecting MN House 7B Race | Northland’s NewsCenter: News, Weather, Sports | NBC, CBS, MyNetworkTV, and The CW for Duluth MN / Superior WI | Local News

Duluth, MN ( – One race that won’t be final until late Tuesday or early Wednesday is the State House District 7B race.

That’s because it’s a three way race with only two of the candidates listed on the ballot.

News Fast. News First. Subscribe for text alerts, e-news & more.

Late Tuesday night, results showed DFL endorsed Erik Simonson with a commanding lead in the race.

What happened here made this a wild ride for all the candidates. It began when incumbent Representative Kerry Gauthier stepped down amidst a sex scandal. But removing his name from the ballot was not a slam dunk.

It took a State Supreme Court decision to do it and then another battle over whether the DFL could add newly endorsed candidate Eric Simonson to the ballot.

But it didn’t end there.

Jay Fosle chose not to seek any party endorsement, but still felt he had a right to a spot on the ballot.

The State Supreme Court allowed Simonson, but not Fosle. Fosle chose to continue an aggressive write in campaign, winning an endorsement from the Duluth News Tribune.

Through it all, Republican endorsed candidate Travis Silvers remained on the ballot.

By the time the Supreme Court had made its decision on the Gauthier/Simonson situation, ballots had already been printed.

New ballots had to be created with St. Louis County taxpayers footing the bill of an estimated $20,000.

via Disecting MN House 7B Race | Northland’s NewsCenter: News, Weather, Sports | NBC, CBS, MyNetworkTV, and The CW for Duluth MN / Superior WI | Local News.

Minnesota House: Simonson wins District 7B seat | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

Erik Simonson, an assistant Duluth fire chief who landed on the ballot for state Legislature on a decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court, was the overwhelming winner for the Minnesota State House District 7B seat.

Unofficial results from all 17 precincts that cover the western half of Duluth showed Simonson with a commanding 62 percent of the vote compared to 22 percent for Republican Travis Silvers and about 16 percent for write-in candidate Jay Fosle, a Duluth city councilor.

While Fosle mounted a well-publicized write-in campaign, Simonson’s DFL endorsement and his spot on the ballot appeared to be too much to overcome.

In the end, predictions of massive numbers of write-ins in the race proved untrue, as did estimates of long delays in tallying the vote.

“A lot of people did think it was going to be closer. But in the last few weeks the mood at the doors as we went across the district really switched in favor of us,” Simonson said after the polls closed. “After a lot of bizarre discussions early on in this race, people in the district started focusing on issues. And when they compared me to my opponents, they liked what I was talking about on education and taxes and the fact that we have a revenue problem in Minnesota, not just a budget problem.”

Simonson said that means he supports Gov. Mark Dayton’s plan to increase taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans to help balance the state budget. Simonson said another priority for him at the Capitol will be restoring the Homestead property tax credit eliminated in 2011.

Simonson will replace Rep. Kerry Gauthier, a Democrat who dropped out of the race in August after he was investigated by police after having oral sex with a 17-year-old boy at a Duluth rest area.

Both Fosle and Simonson announced shortly after Gauthier dropped out that they would run for the seat as write-in candidates. Simonson was endorsed by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party and it argued with election officials and then the Minnesota Supreme Court that it was within the party’s right to replace Gauthier’s name. The court ruled in favor of the DFL and already-printed ballots were thrown out and replaced with those bearing Simonson’s name.

Simonson said the decision was likely the difference.

“It’s really tough,” he said of write-in campaigns. No write-in has ever won a legislative seat in Minnesota.

Fosle and Silvers said the decision was unfair to them and offered Simonson a distinct advantage.

via Minnesota House: Simonson wins District 7B seat | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Reader’s view: Fosle isn’t ready to lead in Legislature | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

I was surprised the News Tribune endorsed independent Jay Fosle for District 7B state representative after he skipped the newspaper’s and Duluth chamber’s candidate forum. Fosle instead received a private screening. The News Tribune seems to be doing a lot of hand-holding with Fosle while going out of its way to propagate a bias against Erik Simonson.

For example, the News Tribune’s endorsement editorial said Simonson “barely” met the 60 percent threshold for DFL endorsement. What it didn’t say was that Simonson won the DFL endorsement on the first ballot, which was huge. The newspaper also hasn’t told you Simonson is the only candidate running who supports both a woman’s right to choose and the concept of the super-wealthy paying their fair share.

Fosle, on the other hand, is a Republican-minded candidate in a DFL stronghold. He said he didn’t seek and doesn’t want the DFL endorsement. Travis Silvers has the Republican endorsement. Where does that leave Fosle? In limbo. His “gotcha” antics on the Duluth City Council may be amusing here, but in the state Legislature he’ll be viewed as an unproductive sideshow. He’s not ready to lead.

Erik Simonson is ready, and he will make an outstanding legislator.

Darrel Youngblom


via Reader’s view: Fosle isn’t ready to lead in Legislature | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Duluth News Tribune endorses write-in candidate Jay Fosle in HD 7B race | Politics in Minnesota

by Briana Bierschbach

Published: October 11,2012

Time posted: 1:28 pm

Tags: Duluth News Tribune, Erik Simonson, Jason Metsa, Jay Fosle, Jim Putnam, Kerry Gauthier, Mike Sundin, Tom Rukavina

Jay Fosle

Continuing a streak of endorsing more conservative candidates, the Duluth News Tribune on Thursday endorsed independent write-in candidate and Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle for the House District 7B race over the endorsed GOP and DFL candidates.

In endorsing Fosle, who has served on the council for nearly five years, the paper expressed exasperation at what has been a roller coaster of an election year for voters in the western Duluth House district.

Originally it was incumbent DFL Rep. Kerry Gauthier who was on the ballot in the district, and a shoe-in for re-election in the longtime DFL stronghold. But he suspended his bid for re-election in August after it was revealed that he had oral sex with a 17-year-old male at a public rest stop. That set in motion a scramble of possible write-in candidates to take his place, including Erik Simonson, a Democrat and a deputy fire chief.  Simonson ultimately got the backing of area Democrats, but it was a close race on the heels of another Duluth News Tribune story that featured Simonson’s estranged daughter, who said he had never tried to contact her.

But while Democrats claimed  a victory when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Gauthier’s name could be pulled off the ballot and Simonson’s put on instead, the paper was unimpressed with the candidate.

From the News Tribune:

“Duluth firefighter Erik Simonson, head of the firefighters union, isn’t much of a choice. His own party barely endorsed him. Delegates voted 33-21 at a hastily arranged meeting. Minnesota Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth was so unenthused about Simonson she called on a friend and political ally to seek the new nomination against him. Her friend and ally nearly nailed it.”

“On the Republican side of the Nov. 6 ballot is Travis Silvers. Unfortunately, despite the Gauthier and Simonson messes, he has done little to win voter confidence and to sell himself as a leader. Also, despite coming off as a genuinely nice guy and a devoted family man, Silvers, at candidate forums and in public statements, has offered few specific or original ideas and hasn’t demonstrated a strong grasp of the issues and challenges facing his district or the state.”

Fosle, the paper said, has a proven record of job creation.

“Fosle has leadership experience. He has served four years and nine months on the Duluth City Council, earning a reputation for his thoughtfulness and for being a fiscal watchdog. He’s chairman of the city’s Public Safety Committee and has served as a public utilities commissioner and as the past chairman of the Public Works Committee.”

While running as an independent, Fosle has a reputation for being the more conservative voice on the Duluth City Council. The paper has recently handed out a slew of endorsements to conservative candidates over their liberal counterparts, including Jesse Colangelo in House District 6B, who is facing DFLer Jason Metsa to replace retiring Rep. Tom Rukavina, and Republican Jim Putnam, who is running against Mike Sundin in House District 11A.

via Duluth News Tribune endorses write-in candidate Jay Fosle in HD 7B race | Politics in Minnesota.