Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, DFL-Fridley, will face constituents at a special meeting Thursday night of Senate District 50 DFLers to answer questions about his attempt to pass legislation to improve fishing on a northeastern Minnesota lake where he owns a cabin.
William Krueger, the district's chair, said he called the meeting after being bombarded with calls from DFLers upset with Chaudhary. "Since I've been chair almost 10 years, I've never had so many calls and e-mails," Krueger said.
Some are so angry they want to rescind the party's endorsement of the three-term senator, he said. The 7 p.m. meeting at the Fridley Community Center will, Krueger said, "take everybody's pulse" before deciding a next move. "Nothing has lit up my district like this did," he added.
Well now. If the DFL were to rescind the endorsement, it would put the district in play in even a greater way than it is now. The dilemma for the DFL is that it would likely mean that they'd have to find another candidate and there's not necessarily a lot of options. The logical move would be for a current House rep to step in, but the two DFLers representing the district don't bring much to the table. The current state rep in 50A is Carolyn Laine, who is a relative newcomer and hasn't done much to distinguish herself. Laine is facing an energetic challenge from Tim Utz, who has been busy making inroads into what is usually hostile territory for Republicans. The rep on my side of the district (50B) is the orange-clad green acolyte Kate Knuth, most recently seen protesting global warming in a Copenhagen snowstorm. If Knuth were to step in as a Senate candidate, her seat would almost certainly fall to her Republican challenger, Russ Bertsch, who has a decent change to oust Knuth in any event. And does anyone think that Chaudhary is willing to fall on his sword?
There's an additonal problem if you're on the DFL side -- the Republicans have endorsed a formidable candidate in New Brighton Councilwoman Gina Bauman. Gina has a proven record as a reformer and fiscal watchdog in New Brighton, and has been quite vocal and fearless in her efforts to take on the old boy network that had run this city for over 25 years. Chaudhary was going to be in trouble anyway and the ethical cloud he now faces could be too much to hold the seat.
So what is the DFL to do? The cupboard is pretty much bare and if they try to broker a deal to move out Chaudhary, they risk losing his seat and potentially a House seat as well. The unhappy result for the DFL is that they will probably have to bite down hard, accept Chaudhary as their standardbearer and hope that the voters in SD50 forget about his misstep. There are plenty of people (myself included) who will not hesitate to remind them.