Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Brian Melendez to step down
ST. PAUL The state's top Democratic operative said Friday that he was stepping down after a six-year run. During his tenure, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Brian Melendez saw DFLers command broad majorities in the House and Senate and win...
The state's top Democratic operative said Friday that he was stepping down after a six-year run.
During his tenure, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Brian Melendez saw DFLers command broad majorities in the House and Senate and win a governor's race for the first time in a quarter-century.
Melendez explained why he was quitting in a letter to party officials two days after Mark Dayton won the governor's office after a monthlong recount, but after a Nov. 2 election rout by state Republicans.
"This job has been like getting a Ph.D. in human nature," Melendez wrote. "I have seen the dark side of politics and people at their worst. But I have also seen politics and people at their best."
A likely candidate to replace Melendez is Ken Martin, who led Dayton's recount effort. During the campaign, Martin headed the 2010 Fund and WIN Minnesota, two political groups to which DFL benefactor Alida Messinger, a Rockefeller heir and Dayton's ex-wife, contributed significant money.
The party won't choose a successor until February.
During Melendez's tenure, DFLers saw their numbers in the Legislature surge in 2006 and again in 2008, as the party rode a wave of voter discontent with President George W. Bush. But they were unable to break the Democratic losing streak when it came to the most important office, that of governor.
Discontent with President Barack Obama's administration was a major factor in the Republican effort this year, which saw the GOP
take over the Minnesota Senate for the first time since state lawmakers adopted partisan labels in the 1970s.
But the DFL finally broke through in the governor's race, the party's first gubernatorial victory since Gov. Rudy Perpich won re-election in 1986. Dayton will be sworn in Jan. 3 after defeating Republican Tom Emmer by fewer than 9,000 votes.
State GOP Chairman Tony Sutton said Friday that he has not decided on his future and will ponder it over the holidays. He said his family has been supportive of his position, but they will be the main factor in his decision.
"I have empathy for anybody who serves in a job like this," Sutton said. "I certainly myself haven't decided what I'm going to do."
Turnover is normal after every election, and it continues elsewhere as well. The exodus from outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration found two more top officials leaving Friday: David Metzen, director of the Office of Higher Education, and Paul Eger, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency commissioner, both announced their departures.
Eger is leaving Dec. 21 to become a lobbyist for the Minnesota Association of Realtors. Metzen will become a provost at Globe University in Woodbury.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.