DFL Secretary of State Mark Ritchie announced Tuesday that he will not seek a third term next fall, and already there’s a large scrum of potential candidates looking at the office.
Shortly after Ritchie’s announcement, former Hennepin County and Anoka County elections manager Rachel Larson Bohman released a statement and unveiled a Facebook page announcing that she would seek the office as a Democrat. Last month, Bohman told her colleagues at Hennepin County that she was leaving the position on May 31. Bohman worked for former Secretaries of State Mary Kiffmeyer and Joan Growe.
A handful of current and former DFL legislators are considering the post, too, including DFL Reps. Steve Simon of Hopkins, Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, Sen. Roger Reinert of Duluth and former North Branch DFL Rep. Jeremy Kalin. Simon chaired the House Elections Committee this year, while Winkler carried the omnibus campaign finance bill. During his time in the Legislature, Kalin authored the Military and Overseas Voting Act. Reinert, who served in the Navy, cities his military background and work as a civics professor as good qualifications for the job if he were to run.
Republicans are also showing a sudden spike in interest the race, which had no GOP challengers declared before Ritchie’s announcement. GOP Reps. Pat Garofalo of Farmington and Joyce Peppin of Rogers are considering a run. Garofalo has worked on election issues in the Legislature, particularly in his advocacy for National Popular Vote. Peppin said she is interested after chairing the House Government Operations and Elections Committee for two years. “I’m interested and I will consider it,” she said. GOP state Sen. Warren Limmer is also pondering a run, although he says it’s “doubtful” that he will seek the office. Limmer lost the GOP endorsement for the office to Kiffmeyer in 1998. Kent Kaiser, who worked in the secretary of state’s office under Kiffmeyer, is also considering a bid for the seat.
Several legislators who specialize in election issues have already ruled out a run. Senate elections sub committee chairwoman Katie Sieben says, while the office has appeal to her, she will not run in 2014 because of her young family. GOP Sen. Scott Newman, who authored the 2012 photo I.D. constitutional amendment, also has “no interest at all” in running for secretary of state.
“It’s an important job and I sure admire those that do it, but it’s also a very difficult job to run for,” Newman said. “It’s really hard to raise money and you are running a statewide election. I’m very happy where I’m at.”