Candidate pool narrows

At a joint committee meeting, state officials recommended candidates who they support in the Board of Regents election.

Board of Regent candidates for the fourth congressional district Richard Beeson and Tom Sorel field questions from a joint legislative committee Tuesday at the State Office Building. The committee selected Beeson as its recommended candidate for the fourth district.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

Board of Regent candidates for the fourth congressional district Richard Beeson and Tom Sorel field questions from a joint legislative committee Tuesday at the State Office Building. The committee selected Beeson as its recommended candidate for the fourth district.

Christopher Aadland

After four hours of arduous discussion, legislators recommended seven candidates on Tuesday to fill the five open seats on the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents.

A joint legislative committee, which comprised lawmakers who serve on the state Legislature’s higher education committees, recommended two current regents and five other regent-hopefuls to continue in the board’s election. The full Legislature will vote on the selected candidates in the coming weeks.

Some former state lawmakers have expressed interest in serving on the board recently and said they’re lobbying for support. The committee, though, did not select them to advance in the election.

Candidates can make their way into the election at any point if they receive a nomination from a legislator.

Four candidates, who were recommended last month by the Regent Candidate Advisory Council were added on Tuesday to the list of regent-hopefuls. They were added after legislators’ recommendations.

Each open spot on the board represents a congressional district, and for some, lawmakers struggled on Tuesday to choose one candidate over another. The committee recommended two candidates for both the first and third districts.

Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, said sending two candidates forward was necessary because legislators couldn’t come to an agreement.

The committee recommended Randy Simonson and Patricia Simmons for the first district position, Paula Prahl and Michael Belzer for the third district, current board Chair Richard Beeson for the fourth district, Michael Hsu for the sixth district, and Tom Anderson for the seventh district spot.

Simmons, a current regent and retired Mayo Clinic physician, said on Tuesday she is seeking her third term on the board. She said she didn’t originally intend to seek another term but decided to run because she didn’t want the board to lose medical expertise after candidate Dr. Claire Bender withdrew last week.

Last month, some members of the RCAC, a group of state leaders and a University student, expressed concerns over recommending former politicians to sit on the board.

Two former legislators, state Rep. Randy Demmer and U.S. Rep. Bill Luther, were interviewed by the RCAC, but they didn’t make its list of recommended candidates.

Beeson is seeking his second term as a regent.