"You know in India, rain is a sign of good luck," state Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, said as he stepped out of his car into the rain Tuesday morning to cast his primary vote at North Park Elementary School.
The three-term senator may need the luck as he faces possibly his toughest race since he was first elected to the House in 1996. Chaudhary has won general elections in the liberal district by comfortable margins, and hasn’t faced a primary challenge since 2002, when he beat DFLer Steven Novak by more than 20 percentage points.
But this year is different. This election the veteran legislator doesn’t have the DFL endorsement behind him after controversy over an amendment Chaudhary proposed to a game and fish bill in the waning days of the session. The amendment would have protected fish populations on a lake where Chaudhary owns a cabin. Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed the bill, partly because of the Chaudhary amendment, and a Senate ethics panel reviewed the matter.
While the committee cleared him of any wrongdoing, that didn’t keep DFLers in his district from stripping his endorsement and giving it to former state Rep. Barb Goodwin of Columbia Heights.
Chaudhary said last month things were "a little nip and tuck," but lately he has felt a boost in support for his campaign. He has been knocking on doors across Senate District 50, which includes Fridley, Arden Hills and Columbia Heights, and making phone calls across the area. He’s even reaching out to people who don’t usually vote to get their support behind him today, he said.
Chaudhary gets ready to vote at North Park Elementary School in Fridley with his wife, Dee, and his 6-year-old son, Arjun.
Despite the rain and heat, Chaudhary and volunteers travel to homes in St. Anthony to get residents out to the polls.