MN Democrat tests limits of well-known axiom on political death

posted at 9:21 am on August 21, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Most people in politics have at one time or another said about an apparently Teflon-coated politician that the only way he could lose would be to be caught with a live boy or a dead girl.  It’s a rather crude way to show respect for an opponent, but no one means it literally.  However, thanks to one pioneering state representative from Minnesota, we’re about to test at least one half of that formula:

A Minnesota state lawmaker who authorities say admitted having a liaison with a 17-year-old boy at a rest stop faced calls from party leaders on Monday to give up his re-election bid.

Rep. Kerry Gauthier, 56, hasn’t been charged in the July incident, and authorities said he wouldn’t be because the boy was older than 16, the legal age of consent, and no money was exchanged. Police say the teenager responded to the lawmaker’s Craigslist ad for “no strings attached” sex.

Gauthier admitted to the liaison, according to police reports made public late last week. The teen told police the two had oral sex, according to the reports.

Gauthier had been running for re-election to his district, a reliably Democratic seat in Duluth.  Democrats want him out, including his caucus leader and his party’s chair:

State Democratic leaders are increasing pressure on a DFL legislator not to seek re-election after authorities said he had a sexual encounter with a 17-year-old boy at a rest stop in Duluth.

“I am deeply disappointed with Rep. Kerry Gauthier’s conduct,” said House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis. “The conduct was wrong and … I believe he should withdraw from the race for re-election.” …

Soon after Thissen’s comments on Monday, DFL Party Chair Ken Martin called the situation “deeply unfortunate” and asked Gauthier to drop out of the race.

“His actions are inexcusable,” Martin said. “The people of Duluth deserve a representative who will stand up for their interests, without the sort of distractions that Rep. Gauthier has caused through exceedingly poor judgment.”

Republicans want him out now, not at the end of the term:

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, a Republican, made a stronger call Friday, saying that Gauthier should resign during his current term in the wake of the public sex incident.

What happens from here?  The primary is over, and I’m not certain whether Minnesota has the same leeway for parties to replace nominees as Missouri does.  Two local politicians have already announced write-in bids for the state House seat, one a sitting member of the Duluth City Council and the other an assistant fire chief in the city.  If Gauthier withdraws and Democrats can’t replace him on the ballot, they may have to choose one of those two candidates to endorse in order to keep Republican nominee Travis Silver from winning against fractured opposition.  Democrats had hoped to take advantage of Republican disarray to take back control of the legislature, but this throws a big wrench in their plans.

I’ve received a few e-mails wondering why I haven’t written about Gauthier.  To be honest, I didn’t think it was a national news story.  In fact, I forwarded the link of the arrest story to Allahpundit as a possible “Dude” headline and forgot about it until yesterday.  While the incident was disgusting and unbelievably tawdry, no coercion was involved, and both participants are above the age of consent in this state.  It’s a scandal, of course, but until this week, I thought that it was of little interest outside of Minnesota.  At least we’ll finally have a real-world example of the “live boy” metric, thanks to Kerry Gauthier, who should otherwise be sprinting towards obscurity as fast as he possibly can.

Update: Great point from one commenter: “This thread is funny, and sad. They’re “consenting adults”, except when it comes to healthcare. Then he’s a kid for another decade.”


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