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Prettner Solon might be leaving Dayton's team

In this undated photo, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon chats before the governor’s State of the State address at the Capitol. Forum News Service

Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon is scheduled to make a “significant announcement” today, with indications suggesting she will not run on Gov. Mark Dayton’s re-election ticket in November.

Prettner Solon has scheduled a 9 a.m. news conference at the Capitol in St. Paul to make what the governor’s office called a “significant announcement.” Meanwhile, Dayton will not be there. His office said the governor was scheduled to be at a meeting in Washington at the White House, hardly a sign that the two will march arm-in-arm toward re-election.

Dayton and Prettner Solon met in person Monday afternoon, but Matt Swenson, the governor’s spokesman, said neither Dayton nor Prettner Solon would field questions on the issue Monday.

Prettner Solon — a Duluth resident, former state senator from Duluth and former city councilor — appeared to be leaning toward leaving the DFL ticket as early as last spring, said state Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth.

“I sensed that she was ready for a change even before the last legislative session. I would not be surprised at all if she is not running again,” Reinert said of today’s announcement.

Reinert and others noted that Prettner Solon last year made public her concerns that she and Dayton did not often talk or meet on major issues and that she was questioning her role in the administration. As most gubernatorial candidates do, Dayton invited Prettner Solon to be his running mate in 2010 promising she would be a key figure in his administration, especially dealing with senior citizen issues.

Some of that happened, and Prettner Solon has toured the nation in the name of the state, but apparently not enough to keep her on the team.

Speculation has been rampant over who might take Prettner Solon’s place on the ticket. DFLers say the frontrunner is state Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove. She is the niece of former House Speaker Harry Sieben, so she has the DFL pedigree, and she’s won three elections as a DFLer in a Twin Cities suburban district that often swings Republican, a key factor for Dayton who will need to make inroads into suburban voters to win this year.

While Prettner Solon was considered a solid northern balance to Dayton’s Twin Cities background in 2010, it’s not clear if he still needs that same geographic balance this time around. It’s also not clear if he must follow a 30-year trend of male candidates for governor (from both major parties) picking women as their running mates.

Another name in the mix is Tony Sertich of Chisholm, the commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. The former state representative is a Dayton appointee.

One person not interested in the lieutenant governor’s job is Duluth Mayor Don Ness. Ness told the News Tribune Monday that he had not been approached or discussed the issue with Dayton and that he is flatly “not interested, so I suppose that makes it a moot point.

“My thoughts on this issue right now are with Yvonne and her decision- making. She has served this state well for many years, whatever her choice, I want to respect her moment,” Ness told the News Tribune.

Reinert quipped that he had not yet been asked to run with Dayton, “but I can’t say that I wouldn’t be interested,” he said.

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