Saturday, March 31, 2012

Knuth steps down, Bernardy steps up

Rep. Connie Bernardy and Rep. Kate Knuth

Saturday, former DFL State Rep. Connie Bernardy won endorsement over current Rep. Tom Tillberry for the 41A House seat at the SD41 DFL Convention. It was a surprisingly quick first ballot victory (63%-37%) for Bernardy, who served in the House from 2000 - 2006.

After the endorsement vote, outgoing Representative Kate Knuth (DFL - New Brighton) was honored for her service by the delegates. And while Kate Knuth didn't publicly endorse either candidate, her presence was felt heavily in the race. The final speaker introducing Bernardy was Rep. Knuth's mother, Joane, who wore Knuth's trademark orange.

(L-R) Goodwin, Rep. Carolyn Laine, Knuth, Tillberry, Bernardy
The matchup between Bernardy and Tillberry came about through redistricting. Knuth and Tillberry were drawn into the same House district during reapportionment, and Knuth decided to not run for reelection. Bernardy originally explored running for the Senate seat currently held by Barb Goodwin, but ran instead against Tillberry when Goodwin decided to run for re-election. Goodwin won her seat in 2010 after defeating incumbent Sen. Satveer Chaudhary in a primary.

Knuth was a rarity in modern politics, a working scientist-legislator. In a heartfelt speech to the delegates, she talked of her love for Minnesota and her quietly determined approach to public service. Only thirty years old, she has a bright future ahead of her. Knuth said she planned to work with the University of Minnesota to develop advocacy skills in the sciences and also to finish her Ph.D. She'll be sorely missed at the Capitol.

UPDATE: Politics in Minnesota is reporting that "Tillberry says he has not ruled out running in a DFL primary and will consider his options." This is certainly news to the folks who attended the convention. Both candidates were asked the following question: "Will you abide by the endorsement of this convention, and not run against the DFL endorsed candidate for this office?" Tillberry and Bernardy both answered with only one word, "yes."

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

No comments: