Two-term Secretary of State Mark Ritchie won't make it three. DFLer Ritchie, the state's chief elections administrator, announced Tuesday that his name won't appear on the 2014 ballot.
He likely would have been in for tough contest had he chosen otherwise. Ritchie won his office in 2006 by defeating incumbent Republican Mary Kiffmeyer, now a state senator. That was the first of his several sins in the eyes of GOP partisans, who likely would have gone to unusual lengths to put up roadblocks to his reelection next year.
As chief administrator of two statewide recounts, Coleman-Franken in 2008 and Dayton-Emmer in 2010, Ritchie served fairly and well -- except in the eyes of Republicans who still maintain that the victory of DFLers in both of those close contests was evidence of something amiss.
In 2012, Ritchie made no secret of his antipathy for the GOP-backed constitutional amendment that would have required voters to present valid government-issued photo ID cards in order to receive a ballot.
He tried to change the GOP Legislature's wording of the ballot question, something a 1919 state statute appeared to permit. The state Supreme Court told him otherwise. But by trying, Ritchie served notice to Minnesotans that they should be wary of potentially misleading wording. He planted doubts that led to more, and ultimately to the defeat of the constitutional change.
When I asked Ritchie in 2012 whether he was concerned about the perception among Republicans that he was too partisan for the office he held, he brushed my question aside. He was concerned about preserving the openness, fairness, efficiency and reliability of an election system that had been produced the highest electoral turnouts in the country for nearly 40 years.
That was what mattered, not his political future, he said. That response is a fine legacy.