Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who became a national figure during Minnesota's heavily contested recounts, will call it quits after eight years managing the state's elections.
Ritchie, a Democrat best known for overseeing the nearly interminable 2008 U.S. Senate recount, said he would make "way for the next generation of talented leadership in the Office of the Secretary of State" at the end of this term.
The 61-year-old's announcement that he will not run for re-election will immediately set off a mad scramble for the Secretary of State's office among both Republicans and Democrats. Across the country, officials who oversee elections have increasingly been viewed as players in the political wars over who gets to vote and how.
"Is it uncomfortable to be the object of anger and controversy?" Ritchie said last year when he was again in the spotlight for electing the change the titles of two Republican-approved constitutional amendments. "Yes. But I'm very thick-skinned."
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled against Ritchie's title changes but ultimately voters rejected both constitutional amendments.
As Ritchie's retirement was rumored political figures began mulling the post.
On Tuesday afternoon, state Rep. Steve Simon, the chair of the House elections committee and a Hopkins Democrat, said he was "seriously considering" a run, Rep. Ryan Winkler, a Golden Valley Democrat, is giving it "serious thought" and Rachel Larson Bohman, a high-profile county election official, has already announced her candidacy. Former state Rep. Jeremy Kalin also said he is also looking into a possible run. Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, said he is “strongly thinking about a run.” Reinert said being one of the few candidates from outside the Twin Cities could give him a unique edge.
Republican Kent Kaiser, who worked in the Secretary of State office when it last in Republican hands, said he would also seriously considering a run. Republican state Rep. Pat Garofalo, of Farmington, has also been talking about a potential run and said, "the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive." Rep. Joyce Peppin, who hails from Rogers and recently completed a law degree, also says she is considering a run.