Bender drops out of race for U of M Board of Regents seat

Recently retired Mayo Clinic Dr. Claire Bender has withdrawn her candidacy for the First District seat on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

Bender said she decided to withdraw due to "personal reasons" adding "I have to take care of me." She said she notified the Regent Candidate Advisory Council about her decision yesterday.

Bender was one of two finalists selected by the committee for the position. The other is Grazix Animal Health CEO Randy Simonson of Worthington. A joint legislative committee is slated to hold a hearing on the regent nominations on Tuesday. Lawmakers are seeking to fill the seat that had been held by Mayo Clinic Dr. Patricia Simmons for 12 years. She announced last year she would not seek a third term.

Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede, chairman of the Regent Candidate Advisory Council, said he was extremely disappointed by Bender’s decision not to run.

"I’m deeply disappointed," he said. "She’s made a decision. I respect that. I was so happy and even excited when I heard she was going to apply. She got through the interview process with flying colors."


Bender sent an email to Rochester-area lawmakers yesterday notifying them of her decision and thanking them for their support.

"I want to assure you that I thought long and hard about the options. I spoke with colleagues, family and friends many times. The decision to withdraw was very difficult," Bender wrote.

Legislators said they were sad to hear Bender was dropping out of the race.

Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said he got to know her well when he worked with her at Mayo Clinic and said she would have been an excellent regent.

"She was an extremely qualified individual who would have been a great, great asset to the University of Minnesota in many ways — well beyond medicine," Senjem said.

Rep. Kim Norton, DFL-Rochester, said the process to run for a Board of Regents position can be rigorous and time consuming.

Norton added she was "understandably disappointed not to have her expertise on the Board of Regents, but respect her decision that this was not the right role for her."

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