While Republicans are dealing with a surplus of legislative candidates a few miles north of Mankato tonight, a dearth of political aspirants is the problem for Democrats south of Mankato and Republicans in Mankato and Nicollet County.
Facing a 5 p.m. deadline one week from today to have their entire list of candidates in place, Republicans are still trying to identify someone to take on Democratic Sen. Kathy Sheran of Mankato. And Democrats need to fill three slots — opponents for Sen. Julie Rosen of Fairmont, Rep. Tony Cornish of Good Thunder and Rep. Paul Torkelson of St. James.
It’s the opposite challenge for Republicans in House District 25A, which includes all of Le Sueur County and parts of Sibley and Scott counties. About 80 GOP delegates will be meeting in New Prague tonight to decide between three candidates who want to be the Republican successor to retiring Rep. Laura Brod, R-New Prague.
“I would guess with three good candidates, it could go several ballots,” said Janet Morris, the Le Sueur County Republican Party chairwoman.
The contenders are Tony DeLuca of New Prague, a quality assurance executive at Deans Foods Co. in Woodbury; Glen Gruenhagen, a member of the Glencoe-Silver Lake School Board; and Rolando Perez, a computer consultant from New Prague.
All three have agreed to abide by the endorsement made by the delegates, meaning the winner will take on Democrat Mick McGuire, the mayor of Montgomery and the DFL candidate for the seat.
Unless candidates step up before the filing deadline arrives a week from today, four incumbents will have a free ride to another term in the Legislature.
No Mankato Republicans have taken the plunge to run against Sheran, a first-term senator in District 23, but the Nicollet County Republican Party is working with a potential candidate, said Blue Earth County Republican Party Chairman Jerry Groebner. Groebner’s Nicollet County counterpart couldn’t be reached for comment Monday night.
It’s the Democrats scrambling for candidates in other area races.
In District 21B, where the freshman Torkelson is seeking re-election, Democrats are optimistic.
“We’re very close to having a candidate in 21B,” said Brown County DFL Party Chairwoman Lori Sellner. “... Right now, 24 is the question mark.”
The DFL is currently without candidates against Rosen for the District 24 Senate seat and against Cornish in the District 24B House seat.
Gary McKinley, the Faribault County DFL chairman, didn’t suggest that candidates were on the verge of entering those races and wouldn’t offer odds on finding competitors for Rosen and Cornish in the final week.
“I don’t make predictions,” McKinley said.
The party has found a challenger for Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, in District 24A — Fairmont auctioneer Steve Fausch.
Competitive races are shaping up in all other districts of south-central Minnesota.
In District 23A, Rep. Terry Morrow, DFL-St. Peter, is likely facing Rebecca Peichel, R-Fairfax. Peichel, a recent college graduate, hasn’t yet received the Republican endorsement, but she’s the only candidate to step forward to date.
In District 23B, Rep. Kathy Brynaert — a Mankato Democrat who filed for re-election Monday — is being challenged by Dave Kruse, R-Mankato.
And in District 26A, which includes Waseca, the contenders are Rep. Kory Kath, DFL-Owatonna, and Brandon Pofahl, R-Owatonna.
Voters will be guaranteed a choice on Nov. 2 in three area Senate races. Redwood County Commissioner Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, will face Al Kruse, DFL-Marshall, in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Dennis Frederickson, R-New Ulm. Kruse switched to the Senate race when another DFLer entered the House race Kruse had been prepping for.
Sen. Kevin Dahle, DFL-Northfield, will be challenged in District 25 by a pair of candidates: Al DeKruif, R-Elysian, and independent John Grimm of Montgomery. In District 26, Alex DeMarco, a Steele County public defender, is the DFL-endorsed candidate against Republican Sen. Mike Parry of Waseca.