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Hennepin sheriff says he won't seek reelection following drunken crash

Hutchinson said in statement he would not step down before his term ends next January.

Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson
Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson
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Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said Wednesday he will not seek a new term as sheriff in November. The move comes as he faced growing calls from Gov. Tim Walz and others to resign immediately after he was found to be driving drunk at high speed when he crashed his official SUV in December.

“After spending time over the past month having discussions with family, friends and supporters, I have made the difficult decision to not see re-election,” Hutchinson said in statement, adding that he would not step down before his term ends next January.

Hutchinson said that he would not be pushed out early by “"political figures with alternative motives,” but he didn’t say what he was alluding to.

Hutchinson was driving drunk in a county-owned vehicle, topping 126 mph before rolling it over on Interstate 94 near Alexandria, Minn., according to a recently released Minnesota State Patrol report.

That disclosure later led Walz, a fellow Democrat, to say Hutchinson should step down from his elected post.

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The sheriff has previously resisted growing calls for him to resign, saying he’d voters decide his fate.

Hutchinson’s decision not to seek a new term in November comes as the state agency that licenses law enforcement is considering next steps.

The investigative file included video of Hutchinson saying that he'd called a cab and someone else had been driving his SUV at the time of the crash.

Cab companies called by investigators said they received a call from Hutchinson's number earlier asking them to take him to a bar, but the company explained that the bar would be closed by then and the conversation ended. He did not ask anyone to drive his SUV.

Hutchinson pleaded guilty in December to a misdemeanor charge of driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent. Documents reported his blood alcohol level at 0.13 percent three hours after the crash. Hutchinson said at the time he had been drinking before the wreck.

He was originally charged with four counts of misdemeanor DWI offenses, including driving under the influence while carrying a firearm. He was sentenced to two years probation and a $610 fine.

He was hospitalized for several days with unspecified injuries. He has since returned to work and said he’s participating in outpatient treatment.

Aside from the continued image problems, Hutchinson's campaign faced a slowdown in donations. Since his arrest was disclosed in December, he received only one $250 donation, according to a campaign finance report filed this week.

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He entered the year with about $31,000 in hand for what was expected to be a tough reelection fight. Hutchinson narrowly won the sheriff’s election in 2018, beating incumbent Rich Stanek.

MPR News reporter Brian Bakst contributed to this report.

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