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Former state Rep. Jeremy Kalin on Tuesday formally announced his 2014 bid for Minnesota secretary of state. Kalin is the third DFLer to enter the race to succeed Mark Ritchie, who isn’t seeking a third term as the state’s chief election officer.

Kalin jumps into secretary of state race

Jeremy Kalin (Staff photo: Charley Shaw)

Former state Rep. Jeremy Kalin formally jumped into the 2014 race for Minnesota secretary of state on Tuesday. Kalin is the third DFLer to enter the race to succeed Mark Ritchie, who isn’t seeking a third term as the state’s chief election officer.

Kalin, who said he will abide by the party’s endorsement, joins a DFL field that includes former Hennepin County elections manager Rachel Bohman and Rep. Debra Hilstrom. State Sen. Roger Reinert, who had been weighing a DFL run, announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he will pass on the race.

At a Capitol news conference, Kalin touted his work on voting issues during his two terms in the House and also the renewable energy consulting business he has run since he retired from the Legislature in 2010.

Kalin was the chief House author of a military voting bill that repaired a state law causing large numbers of Minnesota military personnel serving overseas to see their ballots go uncounted. His campaign chairman, John Baker, a former marine who started the military and veterans section of the Minnesota State Bar Association, said Kalin’s work on the military voting bill made him believe Kalin “can be a secretary of state that ensures all Minnesota voters count, that our election system doesn’t disenfranchise anyone while at the same time ensuring that the integrity of the system is sound and reduces potential voter fraud.”

A likely future issue on election law at the Capitol is early voting. During the 2013 session, lawmakers passed no-excuse absentee voting, but a further provision to allow the casting of ballots before Election Day failed. Kalin said he’s “inclined” to support early voting, but added that he wants to see more data before he comes to a decision on the sort of early voting measure he would support. He noted that early voting can be complicated by late-breaking developments in a campaign, pointing to the 1990 gubernatorial campaign in which Republican Jon Grunseth bowed out due to a scandal and to the 2002 U.S. Senate race, in which Democratic incumbent Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash 11 days before the election.

“I think we want to make sure that we’re not disenfranchising voters by counting ballots well in advance of Election Day, in the case of unfortunate incident like the Grunseth on one side and the Wellstone scenario on the other,” Kalin said.

Kalin said he also has plans for the business services functions that are a less well known responsibility of the secretary of state’s office. He said he would establish a small business innovation center to help new business registrants connect with other resources of benefit to them. “The business services side of the secretary of state’s office represents a huge opportunity to support entrepreneurs and to support innovators even better than we do today,” Kalin said.

Kalin also touted his successful campaigns for the House in 2006 and 2008 as evidence that he can handle the politically intense situations that secretaries of state have experienced in the past. Kalin represented a strongly Republican district that encompassed exurban/rural Chisago County. In Kalin’s District 17B in 2008, Kalin beat his Republican challenger by 6.6 percent even as Republican presidential nominee John McCain beat Democrat Barack Obama by 10 percentage points.

“The political crucible is real. Secretary of state is going to be a target in every state, including Minnesota,” Kalin said. “Having had the experience of standing up for my principles and standing up for myself, but more importantly for what’s good for the state, will serve me well in this campaign.”

Kalin now lives in south Minneapolis with his wife, Hope, who is a doctor, and their young twins. He runs Eutectics, which helps business owners undertake clean energy projects.

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