Once again, Rice County attorney has no challenger

Candidates around the state must wonder how Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster does it.

On Nov. 2, he’ll be re-elected for sure, because there is no challenger. He’s been county attorney since first being appointed in 1999 and in three election bids has never had an election opponent, says the Faribault Daily News.

In 2002, a potential challenger dropped out before Election Day.

It’s the same in many other counties, the paper says — incumbent county attorneys running unopposed, possibly because the pay is low, compared with what attorneys make in private practice:

According to the Minnesota County Attorney Association, Beaumaster will make $107,983 plus benefits this year. His salary is actually toward the high end of county attorney compensation, which ranges from $28,747 in Kittson County to $154,868 in Dakota County.

County attorney salaries are negotiated with county boards and are primarily a function of the years of experience a particular county attorney has and the size of the department they administer.

The paper quotes Steve Betcher, Goodhue County attorney: “Historically, whenever the Minnesota Bar Association published average incomes for attorneys in the state, the county attorneys were always well below what was considered to be the usual salaries for people with the years of experience that county attorneys have.”

Beaumaster told the paper that he “likes his job” and is “paid well,” while admitting that his pay isn’t impressive when compared with some in private practice.

Other possible reasons for a lack of competition, the paper says:

  • The highly public nature of the job. “My life is an open book because I’m a public official. I realize that, and I’m not going to shy away from doing my job because someone might be upset with me,” Beaumaster said.
  • It’s hard to win an election that people generally don’t care about. 

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