Hibbing legal clerk Carly Melin won the five-way DFL primary election Tuesday evening to replace retired DFL Rep. Tony Sertich in House District 5B, but Republicans are questioning her eligibility to run in the general election in less than two weeks.
Melin, 25, won with 50 percent of the vote, or just more than 2,000 votes. Iron Range Resources Board member Shelley Robinson came in second with 1,180 votes, and union manufacturing worker Raymond Lee Pierce took third with 402 votes.
By Wednesday morning, the Republican Party of Minnesota released a statement questioning whether Melin meets the residency requirement to run. Melin, who attended Hamline University for law school, voted in the Aug. 10 primary election and registered as a St. Paul resident. According to state law, a candidate must live in their district for at least six months in order to be on the ballot in a general election. That means Melin would have had to move back to the district by Aug. 15, the statement reads.
“Is DFL candidate Carly Melin trying to pull a fast one on the voters of House District 5B?” party chair Tony Sutton wrote. “While Melin now claims she lives with her parents, state records show she may have a serious residency problem.”
The state DFL Party fired back, saying Republican attacks were “unfounded” and didn’t focus on the issues.
“The residency requirement in Minnesota is clear: a candidate must live in their district for six months prior to the special election. Carly Melin meets that requirement,” Jay Benanav, attorney for the DFL Party, said in a statement. “Carly graduated from law school in May, took the bar in St. Paul in July, accepted a job in Hibbing on August 9th and moved back to the district on August 11th. Those are the facts, and there is no question that she is legally able to run for office.”
The election takes place Feb. 15. between Republican Paul Jacobson, who ran and lost to Sertich in the fall, and Independence Party candidate Cynthia Kafut-Hagen. Check back at PIM for updates on the race.