The Big Story Blog

Latest on Minnesota GOP leadership, decisions

Posted at 5:00 PM on December 19, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Politics

Here's the latest from MPR News reporter Tom Scheck:

Republican senators huddled behind closed doors throughout the day Monday as they continued to manage the fallout from last week. One of the first things they have to do is call a meeting to elect a new majority leader. Interim Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel of Edina said the vote has to come by December 29th, but he said they haven't picked a date yet.

"We literally have to name a day and we haven't been able to do that yet based on people's availability and their calendars and their holiday plans. We want to have all of our members there."

Michel wouldn't say whether he's going to run for majority leader. Neither would Sen. David Hann of Eden Prairie who said most members of the Senate Republican leadership team are working to just organize the election and other matters. He said he hasn't given any thought to a run.

"I'm part of the leadership team and we're working through the process that we have. I think it's premature to get into that. We have a leadership team in place. We're preparing for an election and we're trying to contact members and get them back here."

Koch abruptly resigned from the majority leader post on Thursday night, saying it was the right time to step down. By Friday, four of her Republican colleagues announced that they had confronted her over an inappropriate relationship with a male staffer. Koch has not returned repeated calls to answer questions about the allegations since they surfaced on Friday.

Several GOP senators have not returned calls to discuss the incident. Others, like Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen evaded reporters after a committee hearing, saying she would talk after the majority leader's election.

In addition to Koch's resignation, senators are also declining to answer why Senate Republican caucus spokesman Michael Brodkorb is no longer working for the Senate.

Brodkorb is also a former deputy chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, which is also looking for a new leader after chairman Tony Sutton resigned earlier this month.

Citing legal issues, Sen. Michel wouldn't comment on whether Brodkorb was fired or resigned from the Senate. Citing unnamed sources, WCCO TV reported Brodkorb hired legal counsel after he was fired.

After being reached by MPR News, Brodkorb said he wasn't answering any questions from reporters. Until this weekend, Brodkorb also volunteered for Republican Sen.Mike Parry's campaign for Congress in the 1st District.

Parry said Brodkorb decided to quit his role with the campaign.

"He is a very straight forward shooter. He has been with me. He thought it was best for himself and his family to leave the campaign."

Parry also said Brodkorb's skills with dealing with the media and messaging will be missed in the Minnesota Senate.

The savings from Brodkorb's $90 thousand a year job could help Senate Republicans cut their budget by 5 percent as required by last summer's state budget deal.

The Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss how the Senate intends to cut $2.2 million from its budget over the next two years. Koch is still listed as the chair of that committee but Michel says he doesn't expect Koch to be at the meeting.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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