Chaudhary loses attempt to regain endorsement

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 11, 2010 - 7:57 PM

The lawyer for embattled state Sen. Satveer Chaudhary said "it's time to get on with the election" without the DFL's endorsement.

Satveer Chaudhary

Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune

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Sen. Satveer Chaudhary decided Sunday he will leave it up to the voters.

Moments after being handed another political defeat, this time before a special state DFL panel, a lawyer for the controversial state senator said Chaudhary would end his attempt to win back his party's endorsement.

The three-term senator will now face an Aug. 10 primary without his party's backing but with a continuing firestorm over his attempt to get special fishing regulations for a lake where he owns a cabin.

Chaudhary, who chairs an influential Senate committee on outdoors issues, did not attend Sunday's hearing to try to overturn the decision to take away his DFL endorsement. But his lawyer, Brian Rice, said afterward that "it's time to get on with the election." During the hearing, Rice had called the party's unusual move "a political lynching."

Sunday's decision was the latest chapter in what has become a two-month political soap opera. It began in the Legislature's final days in May when Chaudhary inserted language into game and fish legislation that sought special walleye regulations for Fish Lake Reservoir near Duluth. Gov. Tim Pawlenty, saying he was troubled by the special regulations and other aspects of the legislation, vetoed the game and fish bill in its entirety.

In early June, a Senate ethics panel also took the unusual step of publicly admonishing the senator for his actions. Three weeks later, local DFL leaders -- the senator lives in Fridley -- voted to remove the senator's DFL endorsement. DFLers said they were also upset with the senator's decision not to support the party's endorsed gubernatorial candidate, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

Chaudhary has apologized for his actions but has referred to what occurred as a "procedural error."

The three-person panel, after deliberating Sunday for an hour, said unanimously that Chaudhary's challenge was not persuasive. "We had a pretty good debate," Wayne Pulford, who chaired the panel, said. But Pulford said the panel was not persuaded by Rice's primary argument that the initial decision fell two votes shy of what party rules said were needed to remove the endorsement.

One lawyer said a DFL endorsement had not been removed since the 1950s, but it was unclear whether the senator's political career had been dealt a fatal blow. Chaudhary is seeking reelection against Barb Goodwin, a former legislator who now holds the party's endorsement.

Mike Kaszuba • 651-222-1673

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