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Susan Gaertner’s withdrawal from DFL primary offers more good news for Kelliher

Good things keep happening for Margaret Anderson Kelliher. Less than 48 hours after becoming the first woman to receive the DFL gubernatorial endorsement, one of Kelliher’s primary foes, Susan Gaertner, dropped out of the race.

Good things keep happening for Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

Less than 48 hours after becoming the first woman to receive the DFL gubernatorial endorsement, one of Kelliher’s primary foes, Susan Gaertner, dropped out of the race. The endorsement and Gaertner’s decision are tied together.

“I did not want to be the spoiler,’’ said the four-term Ramsey County attorney at a news conference this afternoon.

The meaning of that is simple: One woman in the primary race means there’s a better chance of a woman representing the DFL on the ballot in November than if two women are in the race dividing voters who consider gender a major issue.

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But beyond that, there also was a realistic appraisal by Gaertner of her own chances. Had R.T. Rybak won endorsement, Gaertner’s competition would have been three men: Rybak, plus Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza. Being the only female on the ballot would have been “my one path” to a victory.

Even that path would have been rocky. Although Gaertner has been campaigning longer than any other candidate, she was having a very difficult time gaining either endorsement or financial support. This primary will not be a race for the underfunded.

As recently as the weekend convention, Gaertner was in Duluth, shaking hands and pushing her campaign, which was based on being the suburban moderate in the race. At the moment Kelliher won endorsement, however, Gaertner’s view of her slim chances changed.

“I believe I had sufficient support in the state to be a spoiler for speaker Kelliher,” Gaertner said. “I wanted no part of that.”

She said she was not approached by Kelliher or either of the other candidates in advance of her decision.

Gaertner also said she’s not sure what lies ahead. One thing is certain: She will not seek a fifth term as Ramsey County attorney this fall. She also ruled out being a running mate for any DFL or Independence Party candidate.  At this point, she’s not thinking of endorsing any of the three surviving candidates.

 “If any of the male candidates would have been endorsed,” Gaertner said, “things would have been different.”

Her long campaign, which started at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in 2008, was worth it, she said, even though she’s now among the growing list of also-rans.

“I’ve eaten more beans than a system can handle,” she said, “but I’ve had more fun than a Methodist prosecutor has a right to  have.”