Brian Melendez stepping down as chair of DFL Partyby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez says he's decided against running for another term.
Melendez says he made his decision shortly after the Election Day but wanted to hold off on the announcement until the recount in Minnesota's governor's race ended.
Melendez called his past six years as party chair one of the most intense experiences of his life but said it's time to move on.
"This is kind of like riding a bunking bronco or holding your breath under water. No matter how good you are at it, even if you like it, you can't do it forever," he said.
Melendez says Democrats faced tough contests all over the country this year and key DFL losses in Minnesota didn't factor into his decision. Instead, he said it's a good time for the party to go through some change.
"There has been some change at the legislative caucuses. The folks who got elected there are great folks but they are not folks that I have worked with very much," he said. "It would be good for a new party chair to get a relationship with them. I have worked with Mark Dayton on the gubernatorial campaign. But we have a new administration coming in in St. Paul. It just seems like a good time for the party and for me personally to make this change."
Melendez has had mixed success as party chair. Democrats will control every state constitutional office in January and both U.S. Senate seats but they lost control of both chambers of the Legislature.
Longtime DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar was also defeated this year.
One of the names popping up to replace Melendez is Ken Martin, who said he's interested in the position.
"I've been flattered by the people who called and asked me about it," Martin said. "I'll take the next couple of days to make sure it's the right decision."
Martin has been instrumental in DFL politics for the past several years. He was the campaign coordinator for John Kerry's presidential bid in 2004. In 2006, he worked on Democrat Attorney General Mike Hatch's failed gubernatorial bid.
In 2010, Martin coordinated the 2010 Fund and Win Minnesota. Those two umbrella groups were responsible for funding the Alliance for a Better Minnesota, which ran millions of dollars in advertising criticizing Republican Tom Emmer.