Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon is ready to address her political future amid mounting speculation she will not join her boss in his quest for a second term.
Prettner Solon has called a news conference Tuesday morning, one day after she discussed her plans with Gov. Mark Dayton. It also follows months of hints that she is not happy in the post, which had touched off a swirl of speculation as to who might replace her.
The 67-year-old DFLer has spent the last three years as a quiet leader in the areas of sustainable energy and broad transportation initiatives. Perhaps her most memorable feat came in 2012 when she did a tandem parachute jump and landed on the Capitol lawn to raise awareness for groups that support those in the armed forces.
“She’s not there for her own ego,” said state Rep. Tom Huntley, DFL-Duluth, who praised Prettner Solon’s work helping seniors, the disabled and those in state hospitals. “She is not there to draw attention to herself. She is there to get the job done.”
In St. Paul, Prettner Solon appears to have a distant relationship with Dayton. The former state senator hasn’t had a high-profile role working with legislators and spends a lot of time at a satellite office in her hometown of Duluth.
Prettner Solon’s role in the shadows of the Dayton administration was never more evident than at last week’s Advisory Committee on Capitol Security when a clerk mispronounced her last name twice before she corrected him.
Dayton’s administration has refused to discuss Prettner Solon’s future on the ticket.
Asked late last week if he knew his lieutenant governor’s decision, Dayton said “I think I have a pretty good idea.”
He offered little more. Four times, in response to questions from the media, he said, “I’m not going to have anything more to say on that subject” until after their planned meeting this week.
Dayton will be in Washington, joining other governors in a meeting with President Obama when Prettner Solon makes her announcement.
Many political experts say Dayton’s selection of Prettner Solon as a running mate gave him the crucial edge in the DFL primary four years ago. She had been heavily courted by several candidates seeking her strong ties to Duluth and Iron Range DFLers.
If Prettner Solon steps aside, Dayton will have to select a new running mate in a vastly different political climate.
The governor is no longer clawing for strategic advantage in what became a dramatic political comeback.
Now he is an established governor with a state party unified around his candidacy.
Those who know Dayton say geography and other strategic decisions will likely be less important in any selection of a new running mate.
“In the end, it’s about the governor, not the lieutenant governor when it comes to campaigns,” said Jeff Blodgett, a longtime Democratic strategist. “The governor would look first for someone who is an effective governing partner.”