Simonson Endorsed by Duluth DFL For Write-in 7B Candidate
DULUTH-Duluth Assistant Fire Chief Erik Simonson accepted his DFL endorsement on Saturday morning after a vote by 54 delegates.
"Without question I guarantee that we can do this by working together. We move forward today, right now. One candidate, we're behind him, me. Thank you very much. I'm going to work my ass off," Simonson said after the votes were announced.
"I guarantee it," Simonson said.
The special convention sought to switch the House 7B endorsement after Rep. Kerry Gauthier (DFL-Duluth) ended his campaign because of his involvement in a sex scandal.
Simonson faces something of a scandal himself after his estranged daughter publicly criticized the candidate for allegedly shutting down contact with her.
That's one of the main reasons an opponent stepped forward only hours before the vote.
Julene Boe, a former city worker, was encouraged by Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon who failed to get a majority of delegates to agree with her choice.
Simonson had already started campaigning in the district and his supporters made themselves known by wearing t-shirts with his name on them.
"I stand for what the party does like defeating the anti–marriage amendment, standing up for a woman's right to choose, preventing Minnesota from becoming a right to work for less state, and ensuring every single Minnesotan has the right to go to the polls on election day without a poll tax that republicans are disguising as voter I.D." Simonson said.
Prettner Solon expressed her concern during her support speech for Boe, pointing to Simonson's estrangement from his daughter and making parallels to Gauthier's scandal (meeting a 17-year-old for oral sex at a the Thompson Hill Rest Area).
"The DFL got a black eye," Prettner Solon said. "And then last week we got another black eye. And we need a candidate that is out there campaigning on the issues and not justifying his or her behavior."
Julene Boe is a former AFSMCE negotiator who now works as Executive Director of the St. Louis River Foundation. During her time at the podium she stayed most vocal on her advocacy for the environment.
"Arguments putting jobs vs. the environment, I think the environment – we really need to put a higher value on our fresh water vs. precious metals," Boe said.
Simonson, however, later addressed his family situation.
"I was faced with a very difficult decision, which we made. We were young and we did what we believed was best," Simonson said of the decision he says he made with his ex-wife.
Simonson ultimately won the endorsement winning 61% of the vote. He admits that he faces a difficult races a write–in candidate but party leadership is exploring alternative options.
"Well, it's very possible that this will be a write–in campaign," the DFL Chairperson for Minnesota Senate District 7, John Schwetman, said.
"It's also possible that it won't be a write–in campaign. The state DFL party is working on finding a way to change the ballot although we don't know what's going to come of that," Schwetman said.
Some delegates also said Simonson has better organization than other candidates. Simonson said he already has one hundred volunteers signed on.
Republican endorsed candidate Travis Silvers said he is paying attention to his opponents.
Currently, Silvers is the only candidate on the ballot that is actually running.
"I hope the people I'm meeting are willing to consider the candidates for who they are and not necessarily because of a party label," Silvers said.
"And I think in this situation we're going to see a lot of people taking some time to look at who the candidates really are and having an open mind going into the process," Silvers said.
Silvers also ran for the seat and lost in the 2010 election.