Last-minute decision takes Vandeveer out of Senate race

He won’t seek reelection in new Senate District 39

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

In a last-minute decision on Tuesday, State Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, has backed away from a reelection bid this fall in new Senate District 39.

Vandeveer had earlier received the Republican endorsement to run again.

Vandeveer said on Wednesday morning the decision was due largely to the onset of Parkinson’s disease which he has been fighting for the past decade. “It’s slowing me down,” Vandeveer said. “It’s having an impact.”

Two Republicans quickly jumped into the race.

Karin Housley of Stillwater and Eric Michael Langness both filed for the four-year term in the State Senate.

Langness is a former Forest Lake School Board member who lost his reelection bid. He has also lost election bids to the Forest Lake City Council and the Washington County Board from District One.

A date for a district endorsing convention has not been announced. Should the party choose not to endorse, the two candidates would go to the August 14 primary election ballot.

The winner will face Julie Bunn of Lake Elmo,the DFL endorsed candidate who previously served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for two terms. She filed for the Senate seat on Monday, June 4.

Vandeveer said he would wait until after the endorsing convention to announce who he would support in the fall election.

The decision was reached, Vandeveer said in the “wake of a grueling” session and an evaluation of his physical condition. It was a difficult decision to make, he said, but one that also took into account his family.

“Yesterday about noon,” Vandeveer said Wednesday morning when asked when the final decision was reached. “I love serving. It’s something I liked to do. It’s not about me.”

Vandeveer said he was slowed during the past session by the Parkinson’s and was uncertain about his ability to continue to perform and deal with business. “You need to be at your sharpest at all times,” he said.

Vandeveer has served in the state legislature since 1998. He served four terms in the Minnesota House before running for the Minnesota Senate in 2006 when Sen. Michele Bachmann stepped down to run for the U.S. Congress from the Sixth District.

Vandeveer won election in 2006 and claimed a second term for two years in 2010. He served this past session as chair of the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee.

He will turn 59 on July 8th.