Thursday, September 24, 2015

Meanwhile, back at SD35.....

My home state Senate District has once again been thrust into the news.

Republican Sen. Branden Petersen, who already announced he will not run for re-election next year, is taking that one step further: He is resigning from office.

He plans to leave the Legislature at the end of October, which will trigger a special election for his Republican-dominant seat. The decision means that he will not return to the Capitol for the 2016 session.

“Since announcing my intention not to run again (in July),” the Andover Republican said, “I’ve just felt and experienced some stagnation both personally and professionally.”

Petersen, the youngest member of the Senate, told the Pioneer Press that staying in the Legislature to complete his term would deny his constituents of “somebody who is at 100 percent of their capacity.”

Petersen, who was first elected to the Minnesota House in 2010 and won election to the Senate in 2012, said he felt he was no longer able to give that.

As one of Petersen's constituents, I respect and appreciate Sen. Petersen's decision. If indeed he doesn't feel engaged in the process then he is doing the honorable thing.

I can only speculate that Petersen is heavily involved in transitioning back to full time in the private sector, thus maybe that's what is preventing him from devoting much time to SD35 constituents. Even though the job of legislator is dubbed "part time" given the actual legislative session lasts only 3-4 months in the early part of the calendar year, there is still plenty taking place outside that window. Fundraising, campaigning, public appearances and constituent contact aren't put aside just because the Legislature is out of session.

When announcing a few months ago he would not seek reelection, Petersen cited the need for "family and making a living." Since his wife is a stay-at-home mom to 3 children under the age of five, Petersen obviously felt a sense of urgency to get on with that portion of his life. No sense in trying to slog through a shortened 2016 session if his heart just isn't in it.

So now the focus of SD35 Republican delegates (of which I am one) will be to endorse a candidate to run in a special election.

The date for a special election to fill Petersen’s seat will have to be set by the governor.

Three Republicans had already filed to run in his place in 2016. They are: Former longtime state Rep. Jim Abeler and longtime Republican activists Andy Aplikowski and Donald Huizenga. Aplikowski said Thursday that he plans to run for the Republican endorsement in the special election.

A fourth Republican candidate, Alex Huffman, has also set up a campaign website but has yet to file a campaign finance spending committee.

As my own personal rule, I typically do not publicly endorse political candidates because a) no one cares what I think and b) it may well result in the GOP candidates whom I do not endorse declining to appear on my radio program.

But given the sense of urgency this time around, I am breaking that pledge. Of all the candidates cited above, Andy Aplikowski is the one who I believe most closely represents my values and beliefs.

Let the games begin!


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