DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Party Chair Ken Martin have joined a growing chorus of politicos from both sides of the aisle calling on DFL Duluth Rep. Kerry Gauthier to either stop campaigning or resign from the Legislature altogether after he was investigated — but not charged — by the police for having oral sex with a 17-year-old boy at a public rest stop.
In a statement to the media on Monday, Thissen called on Gauthier to withdraw from his House District 7B race, saying he was “deeply disappointed” with his actions. “The conduct was wrong, and no one in the DFL House Caucus condones the behavior,” Thissen said, adding that he had met with Gauthier over the weekend after he was released from the hospital, reportedly for troubled breathing. Thissen said he expects Gauthier will address the issue “publicly and soon.”
Martin followed Thissen with a statement of his own, calling Gauthier’s actions “inexcusable” and asking him to shut down his re-election campaign. “We have waited long enough for this situation to be resolved,” Martin said. “The people of Duluth deserve a representative who will stand up for their interests, without the sort of distractions that Rep. Gauthier has caused through exceedingly poor judgment.”
Republican House Speaker Kurt Zellers went a step further last week, calling on Gauthier to resign from the Legislature. Some liberal bloggers, along with editorial writers at the Duluth News Tribune and the Star Tribune, have also called on Gauthier to resign.
Two candidates have already announced or will soon announce plans for write-in campaigns, including Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle and Erik Simonson, the assistant fire chief with the Duluth Fire Department. Simonson is holding a press conference at the Lake Superior Zoo on Tuesday.
Check back at Politics in Minnesota for more updates.