The vote could not have been any closer for the endorsement of a new regent, as Maureen Reed, a doctor and HealthPartners’ medical director, narrowly defeated Barbara Klemme, a consultant for nonprofit organizations, by a margin of 62-60.
The 6th Congressional District senators and representatives met in a caucus Thursday night to endorse one of three candidates for the district’s vacant Board of Regents seat.
The endorsement came on the third ballot. Earlier ballots included George Allen, a retired senior vice president of 3M, who was automatically eliminated when no candidate had achieved a majority after the second ballot.
Reed led all three ballots, but did not achieve 50 votes on either of the first two. To win the endorsement, a simple majority of 62 votes was needed.
Reed said she was pleased with the victory but said upcoming votes will be impossible to predict.
“It’s not over until the Legislature votes,” Reed said. “Tonight was an important first step. But we will have to wait and see when the (Joint) Education Committee makes its decision known.”
Reed, a University graduate, impressed the caucus with her knowledge of medicine and her willingness to work with other Board of Regents members. She also encouraged that a system of measures be installed for the Legislature and the public to chart improvement within the University.
Reed’s caucus victory is non-binding, so any of the three candidates could still be named to the Board of Regents.
The Joint Education Committee will vote Feb. 18 to endorse candidates. Those endorsements will move to the floor for a vote by the full Legislature on Feb. 27.
Klemme said she didn’t see the night as a loss. The weak endorsement of Reed was not a complete victory.
“Tonight the caucus gave a strong endorsement of two candidates,” Klemme said.
It was impossible to guess how the caucus would vote, Klemme said.
“I didn’t have a clue how they would vote,” Klemme said. “I thought it would split three ways.”
Allen appeared to lose favor with the caucus as he responded to a question about how he would solve problems presented to him by legislators. Allen said he would take the problem to president-elect Mark Yudof, rather than search for a solution himself. Allen said it is not the responsibility of the Board of Regents to micromanage the University.