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Gay marriage votes beget recall petitions

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger under Minnesota legislature, Democrats, Republicans Updated: May 14, 2013 - 1:11 PM

Two Democrats' votes to legalize same-sex marriage have begot recall petitions.

Crow Wing County Republican Doug Kern, of rural Brainerd, began the petition to recall Rep. Joe Radinovich after he announced he would support legalization and the petition to recall Rep. John Ward after he voted 'yes' on last week's same-sex marriage bill.

"It’s about the only resource that we have to deal with representatives up here," Kern said.

Minnesota sets a very high bar for recall.

"The grounds for recall of an officer ...serious malfeasance or nonfeasance during the term of office in the performance of the duties of the office or conviction during the term of office of a serious crime," the Minnesota Constitution says.

But Minnesota law makes it relatively easy to start recall proceedings and Kern has already gotten it started. He quickly gathered the required 25 signatures on the needed forms for each representative and paid $100 per recall petition.

In recent days, Secretary of State's legal advisor Bert Black forwarded the petitions to the Minnesota Supreme Court, as required by law.

Although he knows that the state law sets the bar high for recalls, Ward said he is still concerned.

"If it doesn't weigh on your mind a little bit, I think it should be. You've been told something from your constituents that isn't: 'Great job, Rep. Ward," he said. "I understand this is part of democracy. Do I agree with it? No. Do I like it? No," Ward said.

 

Although he strongly inveighed against passage of the constitutional to ban same sex marriage on the House floor two years ago, Ward said he did not decide to vote for the bill until it was time to vote.

In November, 58 percent of his district voted to enshrine a definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the constitution. Statewide only 47 percent of Minnesotans voted for it so it failed.

Ward, DFL-Baxter, said that opinions are changing, even in his outstate district.

"Since January until May when we voted...I had far, far, far, far many more people in my district asking me to support marriage equality than opposed to it," Ward said.

Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, has said that he's noticed opinions evolving in his district as well and has heard from people on both sides. In November, 63 percent of his district voted for the amendment.

House Majority Leader Erin Murphy said that she is not concerned about the recall petition "because there is a threshold that neither Rep. Radinovich nor Rep. Ward has met."

"But," said the DFLer from St. Paul, "I do understand that they took a vote...and there are people in the district that are unhappy about that. I'm sure that Rep. Ward and Rep. Radinovich are going to be working hard in their districts to express their perspective and their point of view."

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