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Filing error means House candidate running in wrong party

BEMIDJI -- A Bemidji man running for the state House of Representatives in District 5A is disputing his listing as a Democratic-Farmer-Labor party candidate and plans to appeal to the state.

Lavern "Pedie" Pederson is listed on the Minnesota Secretary of State's website as running for the seat as a DFL candidate. However, he said Wednesday he didn't intend for it to be that way. The filing for candidates closed Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Pederson has cerebral palsy and experiences difficulty speaking. When he filed an affidavit of candidacy for the the seat at the Beltrami County offices May 20, he repeatedly told officials he wanted to file as an "independent Democrat," both Pederson and County Auditor/Treasurer JoDee Treat said Wednesday. However, the county officials who handled the filing mistakenly thought Pederson meant to be filed as DFLer since he emphasized the word "Democrat," Treat said.

Typically, "independent Democrat" means someone who shares some of the same ideals as Democrats but is not an official member of the party.

Minnesota state law requires those running for the Legislature to list their "political party or political principle, stated in three words or less" on the affidavit.

Pederson does not want to run as officially affiliated with any party he said Wednesday.

When he filed, Pederson did not fill out the affidavit form himself but he did approval-stamp it with "Democratic Farmer-Labor" listed, so when the county contacted the Secretary of State's office Wednesday to have the affiliation corrected, they were told the listing had to stay "DFL," Treat said.

Pederson could have corrected the error had he notified election officials before the filing period closed Tuesday, Treat said.

"The Secretary of State's office is not allowing us to change it," she said. "It was a miscommunication when he was filing his affidavit."

Now, Pederson may have to face off in an August primary against Rep. John Persell, DFL- Bemidji, who has held the seat since 2008.

Pederson said he intends to continue running and file a petition of error to have his affiliation corrected.

Pederson previously ran for state office in 2012, when he lost to state Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, in the DFL primary. He also has run for Bemidji city and school board positions.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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