In 1990, sexual misconduct allegations rocked Minn. gubernatorial race

Grunseth, Perpich and Arne Carlson debate
Jon Grunseth, Rudy Perpich and Arne Carlson meet in an unusual three-way debate on Twin Cities Public Television.
Photo courtesy of Terry Gydesen 1990

This story originally aired in October 1990

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The sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore bear a striking resemblance to the scandal that upended the Minnesota governor's race in 1990.

Incumbent Gov. Rudy Perpich, a DFLer, was facing Republican challenger Jon Grunseth. On Oct. 15, the Star Tribune reported allegations by two women against Grunseth concerning an incident that happened when they were teenagers.

According to statements by the women, during a Fourth of July party in 1981, Grunseth encouraged the girls, along with another friend and Grunseth's daughter, to take off their bathing suits as he allegedly swam nude with two other men.

When one of the girls refused, Grunseth tried to pull down her shoulder straps and touch her breasts, according to the allegations. The women also said Grunseth had been drinking beer, and that beer had been served to minors at the party.

Grunseth denied the allegations and accused Perpich and his campaign of spreading the story.

Star Tribune, 10/15/1990
10/15/90: Allegations rock governor's race. Star Tribune, Oct. 15, 1990.
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Perpich denied any knowledge of the incident, saying he first heard about the allegations when a newspaper reporter asked him about it.

Twelve days later another woman came forward to say that she had an affair with Grunseth which lasted through both of his marriages.

The next day, he ended his campaign. Arne Carlson, who finished second in the primary, replaced Grunseth as the Republican candidate.

Since the change was made just a week before the election, a special supplemental paper ballot for the governor's race had to be created. Carlson won that election and served two terms as governor.