State Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon of Duluth is giving up her legislative seat after three terms to join DFLer Mark Dayton's campaign for governor.
Dayton introduced Solon Monday as his lieutenant governor running mate. Dayton, a former U.S. senator, is seeking the DFL nomination in a three-way primary election on August 10.
Solon was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in a special election in 2002 to replace her husband, Sam Solon, who died of cancer in 2001. She chairs the Senate Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee.
Dayton said he's grateful that Solon was willing to leave the Minnesota Senate to run for lieutenant governor. During a news conference in Duluth, Dayton said if the two are elected, he wants Solon to run a new senior citizen service center from within the lieutenant governor's office.
Dayton said Solon will also play a key role working with the Legislature to help pass his administration's initiatives.
"She fits perfectly my priorities. Someone who is superbly well qualified in her own right to become governor, if despite my nightly prayers that should become necessary," said Dayton. "Or optimistically, I want a lieutenant governor who will be a strong partner with me in leading our state to a better future."
Dayton said Solon was his first choice for a running mate. But Dayton wasn't Solon's first choice for governor. Or even her second choice.
Solon was an early backer of fellow state Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook. When he dropped out of the race, she switched her support to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who lost the DFL endorsement to Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
Still, Solon said she's impressed with Dayton's passion and his vision for Minnesota.
"I'm looking for people who can bring people together. And Mark has shown through numbers of other campaigns that he's able to do that, and that he able to gather the support to move on to victory," she said.
Solon provides gender and geographic balance to Dayton, who lives in Minneapolis.
Late last week, DFL-endorsed candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher, also of Minneapolis, picked John Gunyou as her running mate. Gunyou lives in Minnetonka. The other DFLer in the race, Matt Entenza of St. Paul, is expected to complete his ticket later this week.
Republicans were quick to try to label Solon as an advocate for raising taxes. State GOP Deputy Chairman Michael Brodkorb said he isn't impressed with any of the DFL running mates.
"I think there was a real opportunity for Dayton in particular, and with Kelliher, to pick someone a little bit outside the box, reform minded, and it just hasn't happened," said Brodkorb. "They're picking candidates cut from the exact same cloth -- that share their passion and desire for raising taxes. And it's just the wrong approach right now."
The GOP-endorsed candidate, Tom Emmer, has named think-tank leader Annette Meeks as his running mate. The Independence Party's Tom Horner says he'll announce his choice this week.