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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Minn. LG Prettner Solon says no to 2nd term

  • Yvonne Prettner Solon made her biggest splash as Minnesota's lieutenant governor when she parachuted onto the Capitol lawn to show support for military families. But little else she did drew much attention, and Prettner Solon — who worried openly about being relevant when Mark Dayton asked her to run with him in 2010 — said Tuesday that one term was enough.
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  • Yvonne Prettner Solon made her biggest splash as Minnesota's lieutenant governor when she parachuted onto the Capitol lawn to show support for military families. But little else she did drew much attention, and Prettner Solon — who worried openly about being relevant when Mark Dayton asked her to run with him in 2010 — said Tuesday that one term was enough.
    "I'm ready to move into the third phase of my life and take on new opportunities," Prettner Solon, a psychologist, said as she recounted her journey from Duluth city politics to the lieutenant governor job.
    Prettner Solon said she will finish the final year of this term. She said Dayton didn't ask her to stay, nor did he ask her to step aside. The governor was in Washington for a conference during Prettner Solon's announcement, but she said she wanted to deliver the news by herself anyway.
    Her departure sets Dayton up for an interesting choice of a No. 2 as he seeks a second term, but it's probably not as critical a decision as four years ago. Back then, Prettner Solon brought northern Minnesota appeal to Dayton's campaign. This time around, Dayton doesn't have to worry about a primary challenge, where geographic diversity of his ticket would matter more.
    Possible successors include the leader of the state's Iron Range development agency, former state Rep. Tony Sertich; Assistant Senate Majority Leader Sen. Katie Sieben of Newport; and Dayton chief of staff Tina Smith. Sertich declined comment and the other two didn't return messages Tuesday. Dayton could also go outside government for his pick. He has until early June to decide, though aides expect the process to move faster.
    Prettner Solon, 67, built a decade-long career in state government after spending many more years on the periphery. When she joined Dayton's ticket in 2010, Prettner Solon was in her third term as a state senator from Duluth after assuming the seat held by her husband, Sam, up until his death.
    Dayton chose Prettner Solon even though she had backed two other Democrats until they dropped out of the race. At the time of her selection, she worried openly about the obscurity of the job.
    "I don't want to slide into oblivion," Prettner Solon said back then. "I want to be relevant here."
    But relevance was a struggle for Prettner Solon, who didn't have much of a presence around the Capitol. She has represented the administration at policy summits domestically and abroad, led a panel studying Capitol security and oversaw an outreach initiative concentrating on senior citizens.
    Prettner Solon got some attention in 2012 for a skydive she did to show support to military families. Then 66, Prettner Solon described the tandem jump as "an exhilarating experience" she wouldn't hesitate to repeat.
    Dayton and Prettner Solon disagreed over how to approach guns in the Capitol, with the lieutenant governor favoring tougher restrictions than her boss. The two weren't seen as particularly close, personally, and infrequently spoke.
    Page 2 of 2 - "I think I expected to be more involved in some policy initiatives," she said Tuesday. "And I found ways to do that."
    Republicans characterized the split as failing of Dayton's management style. One GOP candidate for governor, former state Rep. Marty Seifert, praised Prettner Solon and suggested her boss's inner circle lacked voices from rural Minnesota.
    "Mark Dayton had a great asset in Yvonne Prettner Solon being a voice of rural Minnesota and was totally ignored the last few years," Seifert said.
    Several past Minnesota governors have seen a changeover in their lieutenant governors, most recently when Republican Gov. Arne Carlson swapped his political partners at the midpoint of his two terms.
    Although less the case recently, Minnesota's lieutenant governor position has served as a stepping stone. Of the 39 men who have been Minnesota governor, nine held the second slot earlier in their political career. Most were elected when the incumbent moved on.
    But it has been almost four decades since a No. 2 assumed the top spot, when Democrat Rudy Perpich became governor in 1976 as then-Gov. Wendell Anderson vacated the office to become a U.S. senator.

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