ST. PAUL, Minn. - The fate of a convicted rapist up for release from Minnesota's sex offender treatment program is shaping up as a potential issue in next year's governor's race.
State Rep. Kurt Zellers, a GOP candidate for governor, says he doesn't think the state should free Thomas Duvall.
That position is at odds with Gov. Mark Dayton, who is backing his human services commissioner on a recommended discharge.
Zellers, a former House speaker from Maple Grove, says he thinks Duvall is still dangerous. That puts him in line with Dayton's fellow Democrat, Attorney General Lori Swanson, who is fighting Duvall's release.
Zellers' chief opponents for the GOP nomination didn't immediately respond to requests to share their views.
Governor Dayton's Deputy Chief of Staff Bob Hume issued a statement Friday afternoon disputing Zeller's claims.
"Former Speaker Zellers is wrong in implying that the Governor or other administration officials have the authority to incarcerate such offenders for life." said Hume. "The length of a criminal sentence is recommended by the prosecuting County Attorney and decided by the presiding Judge, after review of applicable statutes and the facts of that case. Rep. Zellers could have proposed changing those statutes, while he was Speaker of the House in 2011 and 2012, if he thought they were inadequate; however, he did not do so."
The state sex offender program faces a legal challenge for indefinitely confining offenders.
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