A pair of DFL House members who cast politically risky votes to legalize gay marriage this session won’t have to worry about the repercussions until next year. Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Lori Gildea has ruled that Reps. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, and John Ward, DFL-Baxter, will not be subject to recall elections, rejecting the efforts of a local Republican activist who had claimed that the legislators should face removal from office.
Both recall initiatives originated with Doug Kern, a Crow Wing County Republican activist who argued that Radinovich and Ward should face recalls for having voted against the will of their neighboring districts, where a majority of voters supported the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In Ward’s House District 10A, 57.6 percent of voters favored the amendment, while Radinovich’s HD 10B voted “yes” with a 62.6 percent majority.
Kern quickly collected the required 25 signatures for a recall petition, which the Secretary of State’s Office then passed on to the Minnesota Supreme Court. In a pair of nearly identical dismissals filed yesterday, Gildea ruled that the gay marriage votes fell well short of the state standard for a recall, which requires that a legislator be guilty of “serious malfeasance or nonfeasance” of his or her office.
“Constituent disagreement with votes taken by their elected representative does not equate to malfeasance by the representative,” Gildea wrote, in language which appears in both of her dismissals. “As the supreme court has recognized, the remedy for constituents who disagree with an elected representative’s positions or voting record is not in the recall procedures.”
Shortly before casting his vote, which had been one of the DFL toss-ups before the gay marriage bill passed the House 75-59, Radinovich, a freshman, acknowledged that voting for gay marriage made him nervous, but said he felt it was the right thing to do.
“This is a vote for all of my constituents,” Radinovich said.