After announcing earlier today that he would run for re-election, DFL Rep. Kerry Gauthier has reconsidered and now says he won't be running for his Duluth House seat.
The move comes after Democrats across Minnesota publicly rebuked him for deciding to continue to campaign. Gov. Dayton, DFL Party Chair Ken Martin, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon and DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen all said publicly that Gauthier should reconsider and drop out of the race.
"Rep. Gauthier called to inform me that he has changed his mind and will be withdrawing from his race for re-election," Thiessen said after Gauthier's afternoon change of heart. "I fully support his decision, which brings to an end an unfortunate chapter and will allow the legislature to focus this week on the approval of much-needed relief for those Minnesotans impacted by the recent storms and floods."
Gauthier admitted to police that he engaged in a sexual act with a 17-year-old last month at a public rest stop near Duluth.
The challenge for Democrats will now be to find a replacement for Gauthier. Thissen said Democrats may go to court to try to remove Gauthier from the ballot but they are also pursuing the possibility of mounting a write-in campaign.
DFL Party Chair Ken Martin issued a statement saying he's "grateful" Gauthier stepped aside.
"This has been a very difficult ordeal for our party, our legislative leaders and certainly for Rep. Gauthier and others involved in this tragic situation. On behalf of the DFL Party, we thank Rep. Gauthier for his service in the legislature and we wish him the best on his path to recovery."