In a formal challenge filed Wednesday with the state's DFL party, Eagan Mayor and District 51 candidate Mike Maguire asked the party to vacate its endorsement of fellow candidate Jim Carlson.
Maguire ran against Carlson, a former state senator, in a hotly contested campaign for the DFL endorsement for the District 51 seat earlier this year. , Carlson took 200 delegate votes, or 60.06 percent of the ballots, against Maguire's 133 delegate votes, or 39.94 percent.
But in a news release issued Wednesday, Maguire alleged that a series of vote-counting errors at the party's endorsement convention contributed to his defeat by Carlson. Last week, convention organizers and party officers discovered a series of failures to report or count votes cast for Maguire in three of the convention's four ballots, Maguire said.
"We don't make this decision easily or take its ramifications lightly," Maguire wrote in a letter to convention delegates. "When a highly contested endorsement is decided by a single delegate vote and well-documented errors threaten the integrity of the process and the credibility of its outcome, it's important that DFLers continue to stand by the belief that every vote matters."
Earlier this year, both Maguire and Carlson said they would abide by the party's endorsement process and discontinue their campaigns if they did not receive the endorsement.
But Maguire indicated in the press release that he may campaign against Carlson in a primary election.
"When a tight convention comes down to one delegate on the fourth ballot, it's troubling that votes weren't being counted or reported to delegates throughout the day," Maguire wrote.
Although Carlson acknowledged that there were voting errors during the endorsement convention, the errors likely corrected themselves over the course of four ballots and weren't significant enough to change the outcome of the convention, he said.
Maguire "was looking for a reason to run in the primary and renege on his pledge to abide by the endorsement," Carlson said. "We kind of suspected that this was going to be the mayor's intention because he was very reluctant to give his promise to abide by the endorsement."
A primary campaign, Carlson said, would be "devastating" for the DFL in the swing district.
"What happens when you have this kind of thing is that you’re focusing on someone who’s on your own team, rather than an opponent," Carlson said. "We could lose the district."
The state DFL party will review Maguire's claims, Minnesota DFL spokesperson Kate Monson said on Wednesday. DFL officials will likely collaborate with local party members to get all the facts on the table before proceeding, Monson added.
"We're always in favor of following through and making sure the matter is resolved," Monson said.