Gauthier decides not to seek reelection after DFL Rep. Huntley calls him a "child molester"

Early yesterday, Gauthier said he was in it to win it. He changed his mind hours later.
Early yesterday, Gauthier said he was in it to win it. He changed his mind hours later.
Northland NewsCenter

-- Kerry Gauthier says he intentionally OD'd on pills as news of rest stop oral sex circulated
-- 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

Yesterday, Rep. Kerry Gauthier did his best Brett Favre impersonation -- he probably wasn't going to run for reelection, then he was definitely going to run, then he decided not to run again after all.

Yesterday morning, Gauthier, surrounded by Duluth labor leaders, gave his first post-rest stop sex scandal interview to the Northland NewsCenter's Barbara Reyelts. When asked why his constituents should vote for him this November, he replied: "I think they should vote for me because of my record -- of my willingness to stand up, and speak truth for working men and women, and for the poor, and the minorities -- and to advocate for my city. I just believe that is what the vote should be based on -- not the mistake that I made."

But that wasn't good enough for Gauthier's fellow DFLers, many of whom savaged him throughout the day for his decision to stay in the race. The strongest blast came from Duluth Rep. Tom Huntley, D-Duluth, who called Gauthier "a child molester."

Rep. Huntley: "To my view, [Gauthier's] a child molester."
Rep. Huntley: "To my view, [Gauthier's] a child molester."

"It will hurt us in every race in the state. [Republicans] will try to imply that we're supporting him," Huntley said, according to the Duluth News Tribune. "As far as I'm concerned, he's a child molester. And I realize that it's not illegal what he did... But I think one needs to consider the ethics of the person, and do you want someone like that in the legislature?"

"When a 56-years-old person has sex with a 17-year-old person, I think that's inappropriate," Huntley added.

That sentiment was shared by Gov. Mark Dayton, who made sure to point out that his longtime friend Gauthier wasn't being singled out because he's gay.

"It's not about whether it is a same sex or heterosexual act," Dayton said, according to WCCO. "It would be the same if the circumstances involved heterosexual conduct."

As more and more DFLers criticized his decision throughout the day, Gauthier -- who admitted he tried to kill himself last week with a pill overdose as news of his rest stop sex rendezvous spread -- apparently reconsidered. Around dinner time, he called Reyelts and said he won't seek reelection after all.

Later, he talked to the Star Tribune and shed more light on the rationale behind his decision.

"I am done," Gauthier told the Strib later yesterday. "I just need to take care of myself right now, and I am not really up for that kind of fight."

On Monday, House Minority Leader Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, was the first Democratic leader to publicly call for Gauthier to step down. After Gauthier's Wednesday 180, Thissen released a statement: "I fully support his decision, which brings to an end an unfortunate chapter," he wrote.

Gauthier apparently plans to continue serving in the House through the end of his term, telling Reyelts that he hopes to keep his health insurance benefits through the end of the year.

In the wake of Gauthier-gate, DFLers are left hoping they can unite around an as-of-yet-undetermined write-in candidate. State election officials have said it's too late to remove Gauthier's name from the ballot.

Meanwhile, Dayton's comments aside, Huntley said he believes Gauthier-gate will end up inflaming anti-gay sentiment in the state.

Speaking of the sure-to-be-close marriage amendment vote, Huntley said: "It will lose a lot of people that could go either way, and I think this will multiply the anti-gay feelings that many people have."

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