A DFLer challenging state Rep. Scott Dibble in the District 60 state Senate race wants to overturn Dibble's DFL endorsement. Rich Roche claims that Dibble is in another political party.
District 60 covers Downtown south of 7th Street. Dibble and Roche face each other in the Sept. 10 primary.
Roche's July 26 complaint to DFL state Chairman Michael Erlandson charges that Dibble is a member of another party -- Progressive Minnesota -- and sought its endorsement.
Roche said DFL rules forbid its endorsees from receiving another party's nod or being a member.
Dibble said that PM once was a political party, but that hasn't had that status in "two years or more."
"I'm scratching my head just a little bit about the claim," Dibble said. "To be honest, I'm not giving this a lot of time or attention. I think once you look at the facts, you could conclude very quickly that the claim has no merit or basis.
PM was listed in 1997, 1999 and 2000 on state income tax forms as a political party eligible for State Election Campaign Fund dollars.
But PM lost its minor party status in 2000, and is no longer listed by the Secretary of State on tax forms, said Jeanne Olson, executive director of the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. "As far as I know," she said, "there are no minor political parties in Minnesota now."
However, Kent Kaiser, media liaison for the Secretary of State's office -- which oversees state election law -- said Progressive Minnesota is still a minor party because it has fielded candidates "on a regular basis."
If Roche is right, his case could reverberate beyond District 60. For example, DFL Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman, who represents part of Downtown, is a PM board member, according to the group's Web site.
Roche's complaint only calls for the DFL's Constitution & Bylaws Commission to assess the charges. He could sue, but Minneapolis DFL party Chairman Brian Melendez, an attorney and a DFL bylaws committee member said courts have no jurisdiction over party matters.
"If the DFL party chooses not to follow its own rules, it can do that," Melendez said.
Would the DFL do that? "I'm not suggesting that anybody wants to do that," he said. "But ... a court won't interfere in a matter that purely involves the rules of an organization that interprets the rules for itself."
Even if Roche prevails, he and Dibble would remain on the primary ballot as DFLers.
Roche wouldn't comment on the complaint, but said it signals his aim to fight hard for the Senate seat.
"This is a real race," he said. "Anyone who would think otherwise has not followed it closely enough."