DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen calls for embattled Rep. Kerry Gauthier to step down

Thissen (right) is the first DFL leader to call for Gauthier to step down.
Thissen (right) is the first DFL leader to call for Gauthier to step down.

-- Kerry Gauthier sex scandal: Are these his oral sex-seeking Craigslist posts?
-- Rep. Gauthier, 56, claims rest-stop oral sex with Craigslist boy, 17, was consensual

Republicans have already called for Duluth DFL Rep. Kerry Gauthier to step down. It took Minnesota Democrats a few days longer, but now they've also arrived at the conclusion that Gauthier must go.

Today, Minority Leader Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, issued a statement calling for Gauthier to "withdraw from the race for reelection."

Here's Thissen's statement:

I am deeply disappointed with Rep. Kerry Gauthier's conduct that has been reported over the last several days. The conduct was wrong and no one in the DFL House Caucus condones the behavior.

After being admitted for a serious health condition last Wednesday morning Rep. Gauthier was released from the hospital over the weekend and I was able to visit with him. It was the first time he and I had spoken since we all learned of the events of last month. I shared with him that his friends and colleagues are concerned for him and his health, but also that we were all very disappointed in his behavior. I expect he will address these issues publicly and soon.

As I shared with Rep. Gauthier, I believe he should withdraw from the race for reelection. In the meantime, we will keep Rep. Gauthier in our thoughts as he continues to recover, and look forward to hearing more from him - and the people of his district - in the coming days.

Minutes after Thissen released his statement, the Star Tribune published an editorial that arrives as the same conclusion.

From the Strib:

Duluth DFL state Rep. Kerry Gauthier may not have broken any law on July 22 when police interrupted his sex act with a 17-year-old behind a highway rest stop. But Gauthier's violation of the standard of conduct Minnesotans expect of their elected officials is clear. He should resign.

... Solicitation for sex in a public place with a stranger, male or female, nearly 40 years one's junior is conduct unbecoming an elected official. That's why House leaders of both parties, GOP Speaker Kurt Zellers and DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen, have called on Gauthier to step down.

A resignation now would come too late to remove Gauthier's name from the ballot. That situation points to a defect in the state's election law. But it ought not delay his resignation, nor impede DFL Party efforts to unite behind another candidate. The time remaining until Nov. 6 is sufficient for a well-orchestrated write-in campaign in District 7B.

Historically, District 7B (and, more broadly, Duluth) is a Democratic stronghold. But the DFL's chances of holding on to the House seat will be complicated by the difficulties involved in organizing a last-minute write-in campaign.


Gauthier is out of the hospital but still hasn't publicly commented on the firestorm his Craigslist-facilitated oral-sex rendezvous with a 17-year-old boy has created. We'll keep you posted.

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