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Former lawmakers look to return to the Capitol this fall

Briana Bierschbach//February 29, 2012

Former lawmakers look to return to the Capitol this fall

Briana Bierschbach//February 29, 2012

Former DFL Sen. Kevin Dahle (Staff file photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

With the state’s new 201 district lines set, a handful of former lawmakers are looking to return to the state Capitol.

A slew of former DFL and GOP legislators announced campaigns for House and Senate districts over the last week, including Carrie Ruud, a former Republican senator from Breezy Point, former DFL Rep. David Bly of Northfield, former DFL Sen. Kevin Dahle and former DFL Rep. Paul Rosenthal, who lost in his Edina district in the last election to freshman Republican Rep. Pat Mazorol.

Ruud is currently the mayor of Breezy Point and served in the state Senate from 2003 until 2006. In a strange move, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka of Brainerd is opting to move to an open seat in Senate District 9 to make way for Ruud to run in the newly-configured Senate District 10.

Rosenthal, who served from 2006 until 2010, is looking for a rematch against Mazorol in House District 49B, which has expanded to include precincts from Bloomington, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. Rosenthal, who lost to Mazorol by 5 percentage points, said he fell victim to “dirty tricks” used by Republican candidates during the last election.

“In 2010 I was one of several Democratic representatives who lost narrowly due to a barrage of flagrantly misleading and negative ads funded by right-wing Republicans,” he wrote in a statement on his campaign site. “I’m not bitter. But I know that Minnesotans demand political morality and accountability.  Republicans must not be allowed to get away with dirty tricks again.”

Bly hasn’t been as quiet as most former lawmakers about his intentions to run again. He announced last summer that he would run again for the House, but said he would wait for the maps before settling on a district. He was even involved in the redistricting court battle.  Now  he’s planning a run for House District 20B, an open seat that includes the Carleton and St. Olaf college campuses. Most operatives say the seat is a prime DFL pickup, as the new district shed several GOP-heavy townships.

Bly could face a challenge for the endorsement in the district: Montgomery Mayor Mick McGuire is strongly considering a run for the seat after losing to GOP Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen in 2010.

“I’m planning to go for and abide by the endorsement; I’m pretty confident I can win the endorsement having represented Northfield in the past, and most of the delegates are from Northfield,” Bly said on Wednesday. “I think it’s pretty likely that I will prevail.”

Former DFL state Sen. Kevin Dahle is planning on running for an open seat in Senate District 20. He could ultimately face an incumbent legislator: GOP Sen. Al DeKruif has said he’s considering moving to the district after being paired with fellow Republican Sen. Julie Rosen.

Other lawmakers are strongly considering jumping back in the saddle. DFL Rep. Paul Gardner says he’s considering running for House District 42A, an open seat created in the new maps.  “I assumed that I would not be running so I could move ahead with my new recycling job. But the new lines were very unexpected,” Gardner said. “I am considering a run for House, but a few others are talking about it as well and we are all talking. It will be next week before things are clearer.” Other lawmakers who have said they are strongly considering a run: DFLers Rick Olseen and Dan Skogen.

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