Sheriff Hutchinson not running for re-election after DWI conviction

Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson, who was convicted of drunken driving, announced Wednesday he is suspending his re-election campaign, nearly two months after he got into a rollover crash near Alexandria.

According to a statement posted on his campaign website, Hutchinson said he told staff members about his decision Wednesday morning.

“After spending time over the past month having discussions with family, friends and supporters, I have made the difficult decision to not seek re-election for Hennepin County Sheriff in the 2022 election,” reads part of the statement.

The statement goes on to say he is “incredibly proud of the work my agency has accomplished during my time as Sheriff…. My staff have been very supportive during this difficult time and they have remained committed to serving the over 1.2 million residents of Hennepin County. I will not be resigning as Sheriff and will finish serving out my term in office. I refuse to be pushed out of my role as Sheriff by political figures with alternative motives which would likely come at the cost of the safety and security of the residents of Hennepin County.”

Hutchinson wrecked a county-owned SUV on Interstate 94 while driving back from the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association Winter Conference the morning of Dec. 8. Hutchinson’s blood-alcohol level was at 0.13 — well above the legal limit — when a urine sample was taken hours after the crash.

He was charged with four misdemeanors and on Dec. 16 pleaded guilty to fourth-degree driving while intoxicated. A judge sentenced him to two years of probation.

According to a search warrant application to obtain a urine sample from Hutchinson, the sheriff initially claimed he wasn’t behind the wheel at the time of the crash. He told a Douglas County deputy that he had called a cab and that the cab driver was driving the SUV.

Deputies on scene reported Hutchinson smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on his feet and slurred his words, sometimes making illogical statements in response to questions.

They later found a bottle of bourbon in the front seat, along with many other items that had been thrown from his vehicle, including guns and ammunition.

The Minnesota State Patrol later released images that show the crumpled vehicle and dash-camera footage that captures Hutchinson’s interactions with law enforcement responding to the scene. The evidence also revealed Hutchinson was traveling roughly 120 mph at the time of the crash.

By that point, five of seven Hennepin County Commissioners had already called for him to step down. The release of those evidence files spurred further calls from Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and State Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, who served four terms as the Douglas County sheriff.

At the time, Hutchinson had resolved to see his term through, saying, “I will let the citizens, not politicians, decide my future in November.”

Two candidates have announced runs for Hennepin County sheriff: Dakota County Corrections head Suwana Kirkland and Jai Hanson, a veteran of the Lakeville and Bloomington police departments.