Higher ed committees recommend four regents candidates

Votes fell largely along party lines; two former state representatives were among those selected.

The ongoing process to elect four members to the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents turned political Wednesday night.

Twelve candidates were interviewed by a joint meeting of the House and Senate higher education committees, and four were voted forward for final approval by the full Legislature next week.

The votes fell largely along party lines, with the Republican majority voting forward former Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum and Laura Brod, who served in the House from 2002-2010.

David McMillan, an executive at a Duluth-based power company, and current regent David Larson were the other two candidates chosen – with Larson the only one to receive widespread bipartisan support.

Another current regent, Steven Hunter, was a candidate for the at-large spot, but the committee voted to forward Brod instead.

“Bipartisanship at the Board of Regents has ended,” said Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, after the final vote.

Hunter, also the secretary-treasurer for the AFL-CIO labor union, said he was “well-aware” of the possibility he wouldn’t be chosen.  Although he was disappointed by the outcome, he said he’s going to talk with other Legislators in the coming days in hopes of winning the vote in the full Legislature.