ST. PAUL -- Lawmakers have revived the regent candidacy of Michael O'Keefe, whose re-election bid to the University of Minnesota board had drawn fire because of his day job in Gov. Jesse Ventura's cabinet.
Legislators also acceded Tuesday night to a request from labor groups by straying from their list of finalists to pick a regent candidate with a union background. Ray Waldron, secretary-treasurer of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, won endorsement after four ballots.
O'Keefe, Ventura's Human Services commissioner, prevailed over former Finance Commissioner Jay Kiedrowski on a 45-23 vote by the House and Senate education committees. They were assembling a slate of five favorites for openings on the 12-member board.
O'Keefe was careful not to exude too much confidence because the full Legislature has the final say.
"The fourth and final (step) is yet to come next week," he said.
The joint education committees selected Morris campus senior Angela Bos for a student-designated seat. Regent Patricia Spence, of Rice, was recommended for a second at-large term. Businessman and university benefactor Richard McNamara, of Edina, also won the panel's recommendation.
All but one of the five unpaid positions are for six-year terms.
Waldron would replace Regent William Peterson who died in October, with four years left on his term.
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