Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Dayton’s choice of Solon gives ticket regional and gender balance

Mark Dayton took a traditional path in naming a running mate in his gubernatorial bid this morning: state Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth.

Mark Dayton took a traditional path in naming a running mate in his gubernatorial bid this morning.

State Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon will be Dayton’s lieutenant governor candidate. Solon offers Dayton both regional (she’s from Duluth) and gender balance.

Solon has been a frequent headliner in the DFL’s long process to find a candidate for the November ballot. She first came out in support of Sen. Tom Bakk, but when Bakk, the most moderate candidate in the field, dropped from the race, she switched her allegiance to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. At the time, that announcement was extremely important to Rybak because Solon was among only a handful of state legislators not supporting Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

Now, she’s teamed up with Dayton, who most have seen as one of the most liberal candidates in the field with his “tax the rich” mantra.

“Yvonne is the first and only person I asked to be my running mate,” Dayton said in a long statement about his choice. “….Her thoughtful, sensitive and visionary leadership and public service are further informed by her life experiences, which have forged a woman I deeply respect and admire.”

Open Senate seat
Prettner Solon’s decision means she apparently will not run for her Senate seat, meaning a significant era will end in Duluth politics. Her Senate seat previously had been held by her late husband, Sam, who died from cancer in 2001, after representing Duluth in the Senate going back to 1972. (He previously had served one term in the House.) Prettner Solon succeeded her late husband in 2002. She previously had served on the Duluth City Council dating back to 1988 and was the city’s deputy mayor from 1992 to 2000.

State Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon
State Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon

Prettner Solon’s departure from the Senate does not exactly mean Republicans will have a great chance to capture the seat. She won her first election, in 2002, with 73 per cent of the vote and received nearly 75 per cent of the vote in 2006.

A clinical psychologist by trade, Prettner, 64, would seem to bolster Dayton’s strengths.

First, with his populist campaign, he’s already a strong fit in the 8th Congressional District. Already strong with seniors, he said that Solon would run a “Senior Citizens Service Center” within the lieutenant governor’s office if he wins election in November.

Her work on energy issues in the state Senate should strength Dayton’s already strong position with environmentalists.

Other running mates
Kelliher, at this point Dayton’s top rival in the Aug. 10 primary, made an untraditional choice for her running mate last Friday, selecting former state finance commissioner John Gunyou, who currently is city manager of Minnetonka.

The Republican’s endorsed candidate, Tom Emmer, also made an untraditional choice, when he named policy wonk and conservative commentator Annette Meeks to run with him.

DFLer Matt Entenza has indicated that he will announce his running mate choice this week. Independence Party primary favorite Tom Horner also is expected to soon announce his choice.

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.