By Mark Fischenich
Free Press Staff Writer
ST PETER — Gustavus Adolphus College students may be back on campus when a special election is held to fill a soon-to-be-vacant state House seat, contrary to a report in Thursday’s Free Press.
A 2008 change in state election law gave the governor an extra seven days to call a special election to fill a legislative vacancy — meaning Gov. Mark Dayton can set Election Day in House District 19A as many as 40 days from when the vacancy occurs on Tuesday rather than 33 under previous law. And one week could make a difference in the outcome because nearly 2,500 Gustavus students will return to campus for spring semester on Feb. 11.
Under the old law, on which The Free Press story was based, the election would have had to be set for no later than the week before Gustavus students return. Under new law, if Dayton chooses to stretch the campaign as long as legally allowed, the election can be held the week of Feb. 11.
In previous state legislative races in Nicollet County, student-dominated precincts in St. Peter have provided the winning margin for DFL candidates in close elections.