Special elections to replace two Minnesota lawmakers who resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment have been scheduled for mid-February.
Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday that he has received a formal resignation letter from Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center. Later in the day, Sen. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, officially submitted his own letter, saying he'd step down Dec. 15.
After getting the letters, Dayton released a statement saying both vacancies would be filled by a special election on Monday, Feb. 12.
Monday is an unusual day for elections in Minnesota, but Dayton said the state will have to work around other events already scheduled for the winter.
State law prohibits state elections from being held on the same day as a special local election, and a special school board election is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13, in part of Cornish's district.
The previous Tuesday, Feb. 6, is the scheduled date for precinct caucuses, so it was also off the table.
That means both elections will occur just a week and a day before the start of the 2018 legislative session.
Dayton said the candidate filing period for the special elections will be Jan. 8 through Jan. 11, with a special primary to be held Jan. 29.
Schoen, who was elected to the state House in 2012 and later to the Senate in 2016, resigned after facing allegations from a lawmaker, a candidate for the Legislature and a legislative staff member about inappropriate text messages, comments and one incident in which Schoen reportedly grabbed the candidate's buttocks. Schoen has denied the allegations or said they were taken out of context.
Schoen's Senate district covers parts of Dakota and Washington counties. Several candidates, including a former GOP representative and a former DFL representative, say they will run.
Cornish, first elected in 2002, resigned after a lawmaker and a lobbyist publicly accused him of sexual harassment and misconduct.
He issued a public apology to the lobbyist, who had said Cornish repeatedly propositioned her over a period of several years.
His House district is south of Mankato. A handful of candidates have announced plans to run, including two Republicans and one DFLer.