The Supreme Court of Minnesota issued an order Tuesday removing the name of DFL Rep. Kerry Gauthier from the House District 7B ballot, to be replaced by that of Erik Simonson. The order is a win for the DFL party, which petitioned the court to challenge both the rejection of Gauthier’s affidavit of withdrawal and Simonson’s certificate of nomination.
Gauthier, a first-termer from Duluth, withdrew from the race for the seat after the public became aware of a sexual encounter at a Duluth-area rest stop between him and a 17-year-old male. The party endorsed Simonson, assistant fire chief of Duluth, soon after.
The DFL party’s petition was seen as a long shot by legal experts, but today’s ruling means the party won’t have to engage in a write-in campaign to elect Simonson.
“We are glad to learn that the Minnesota Supreme Court agrees that Duluth voters should have a chance to choose between the endorsed candidates of the major parties — a choice that Minnesotans in every other district in the state will have on Election Day,” DFL party chair Ken Martin wrote in a statement. “The DFL has endorsed a strong candidate in Erik Simonson, and we are confident that he will succeed this fall and that the DFL will retain this seat.”