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Court orders Gauthier name replaced on ballot

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota Supreme Court late this afternoon ordered Rep. Kerry Gauthier’s name to be replaced on Duluth ballots.

The order written by Chief Justice Lori S. Gildea said that Erik Simonson’s name replace Gauthier.

The ruling grants a request filed by Simonson and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party after Gauthier announced he would end his re-election campaign after a rest-stop sex encounter with a 17-year-old boy earlier this summer was revealed.

House District 7B Democrats revoked their earlier endorsement of Gauthier, replacing it with a Simonson endorsement. The state deadline for withdrawing from a race long since has passed, but Gildea ordered St. Louis County Auditor Don Dicklich to accept Gauthier’s withdrawal.

Dicklich’s office began to mail out absentee ballots Friday, as state law requires, with Gauthier’s name.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Dicklich filed paperwork with the high court saying they have no legal authority to change candidates on the ballot at this late date.

While memorandum were presented to the court, neither side requested oral arguments.

Gildea said she would follow up with a more detailed reasoning for the ruling, but issued the ruling quickly to keep the election process moving ahead.

“As we have said, our purpose in filing this petition was to ensure a fair election for the voters in District 7B,” DFL Chairman Ken Martin said. “We are glad to learn that the Minnesota Supreme Court agrees that Duluth voters should have a chance to choose between the endorsed candidates of the major parties -- a choice that Minnesotans in every other district in the state will have on Election Day.”

Simonson had begun a write-in campaign, but sought to be on the ballot because write-in candidates seldom win.