As the clock struck 5:00 on Tuesday afternoon, June 3, DFL leaders from Dodge and Olmsted County found themselves in a perplexing, unenviable dilemma.
Minnesota's filing period for candidates who wish to run in the November elections had closed, and no DFLer had filed to run against State Rep. Duane Quam, a second term Republican lawmaker from Byron, whose state house district, 25A, encompasses portions of Dodge and Olmsted counties, including Byron, Dodge Center, Mantorville, Kasson and Oronoco. This made Rep. Quam one of seven state legislators who will face no opposition in the fall - 6 of them Republicans.
It was a sharp contrast from what DFL leaders hoped would be transpiring in the district. Sensing Rep. Quam's support to be softer than his predecessor, Hayfield Republican Randy Demmer, DFLers had hoped that a strong candidate might be able to replace Quam and give the area a DFL State Representative for the first time in many years. In 2012, Kasson DFLer John Vossen gave the party its best showing in recent memory, running particularly strong in Dodge County - carrying Kasson and Mantorville, but losing by nine percentage points due to a weak showing in Olmsted County, which comprises roughly two thirds of the district's population. President Obama performed even better in the district, losing the district by only seven percentage points, a significantly better performance than previous Democratic Presidential candidates. DFLers also hoped that Rep. Quam's vote against the tax bill that included Destination Medical Center would come back to haunt him in this fall's elections.
Back in 2013, local DFL leaders such as Dodge County DFL chair Bernita Reding began approaching potential candidates, urging them to run against Rep. Quam. Several gave it strong consideration, but all eventually demurred, and as the months went by and 2013 turned to 2014, and time began to run out for any candidate to run a strong campaign DFLers became increasingly concerned. Out of ideas for candidates, they turned to the party's extensive voter database, and were able to identify several strong potential candidates who had thus far been overlooked. However, none of them were willing or able to run in 2014, and DFLers found their wellspring of potential candidates to have again dried up. Though it had been hoped that a couple of individuals would at least be willing to run as "paper candidates", DFLers once again found their hopes dashed, and on June 3, at approximately 5:01 p.m., the dawn of the campaign season, they woke up to the reality that for a seat they once hoped could be a potential DFL gain, they would not even be able to field a candidate.