Travis Silvers and his family (
by Tony Petrangelo
Aug 23, 2012, 7:00 AM

Duluth… so now what?

I’m sure most of you have already heard:

There are those, particularly in St. Paul, that have publicly asked for my resignation, or withdrawal, from the race for the House seat 7B. In consultation with my friends, and my family, I have decided to let people in Central, and West Duluth make that decision rather than the political powerbase in St. Paul.

And with that, Representative Kerry Gauthier will in fact stay in the race for the house district 7B seat that he currently occupies.

Oh no wait, that’s the wrong one, here we go:

“He said there’s been too much fallout, that it’s been too hard on him psychologically,” NewsCenter News Director Barbara Reyelts said. “I asked if he’s resigning. He said, ‘I’m not resigning; I’m withdrawing.’ And that ‘I hope to keep my health insurance benefits through the end of the year.’ ”

Bringing a rather poignant end to a truly human story.

The question now becomes, at least the question for LeftMN Elections to ponder, who is the favorite for the 7B seat?

There will be two candidates listed on the ballot in November, the not officially running for the seat anymore Rep. Gauthier and his Republican challenger Travis Silvers, who ran against Gauthier in 2010 and didn’t fair particularly well.

There are also two announced write-in candidates so far, Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle and Duluth Fireman Erik Simonson. And at least one more person, Daniel Fanning, is making noises about possibly mounting a write-in campaign.

So what to make of all this? Does Silvers have a chance? Do any of the write-ins? Someone has to win after all, no matter how unlikely it seems for any of them.

Let’s start with the district itself, 7B. Here it is (with the old district lines inset):

House district 7B

The new 7B is very similar to the old 7B. It retains about 85% of it’s former area, and adds a few outlying neighborhoods, but it’s essentially the same district from 2010. It was a D+22 hPVI then and is a D+20 hPVI now, so while it moved marginally in the GOPs direction, there is still a huge built in DFL advantage here.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, Gauthier ran against Travis Silvers in 2010, and won that race 67%-22% (with indy Tony Salls at 11%). In 2008 former Represenative and current Senator Roger Reinert won the seat 73%-20% (with indy Jay Cole at 7%). And in 2006 a Republican didn’t even run for the seat.

Because of the vagaries of write-in candidacies in general, it’s impossible to say what will happen. While I would like to say that Silvers ceiling is around 30%, it’s also possible that a significant number of people just don’t vote in this race, meaning that with a lower denominator, Silvers can easily exceed that 30% mark.

And while that remains a possibility, I don’t think turnout will be an issue in this race. There are currently two announced write-in candidates and I suspect that number may yet increase.

By their very nature write-in campaigns for state legislative seats are door knocking affairs, and if there are a bunch of candidates all over town trying to get people to write their name in, well, that’s only bound to drive turnout up.

The local DFL party unit will almost certainly want to endorse their own candidate and in addition to that, this is exactly the type of race where the Minnesota GOP would be enticed to engage in some rat-fucking by fielding write-in candidates of their own.

And who can blame them, they have the only candidate on the ballot who is actually running, so why wouldn’t they encourage their loyalist hacks in Duluth to run their own write-in campaigns? The theory being that, the more write-in campaigns there are, the more confusion will rein.

It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. I don’t think he can actually win, but for now, Travis Silvers seems to be the front runner.

For what it’s worth, here’s my rather obvious prediction: the Senate district 7 DFL will endorse someone and that someone will be the person who ends up winning.

In just one week though, this race went from being an after thought, to the center of attention. Sometimes in Minnesota, the Politics is just like the weather.

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