ROSEVILLE, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Senate Republicans met Tuesday to choose a new majority leader to replace Amy Koch, who resigned amid revelations she had an inappropriate relationship with a Senate staffer.
Republican senators gathered at a suburban hotel and planned told hold a news conference after the closed meeting to announce their new leader. The politicking over potential successors has taken place largely in private, and it wasn’t immediately clear which names were placed in nomination, though some senators mentioned as possible candidates took themselves out of the running last week.
Koch publicly admitted to the relationship last Wednesday. She gave up her leadership post Dec. 15, one day after she was confronted by her colleagues about the relationship. She said she will not run for re-election, but she remains a senator.
Along with the speaker of the House, the Senate majority leader is one of the most powerful posts in state government. They wield considerable authority in deciding which bills get considered and which are left to languish in committee.
Neither Koch nor other GOP senators have publicly named the Senate employee with whom she was involved. But on the day her resignation was announced, other Senate Republicans announced that caucus spokesman Michael Brodkorb, one of Koch’s chief aides, was no longer employed by the Senate. Brodkorb has not publicly commented on the reasons for his departure either, but he has hired a lawyer.
The new majority leader must try to unite a 37-member caucus that’s still reeling from the scandal, with the Jan. 24 opening of the legislative session approaching quickly. The session could be dominated by the MinnesotaVikings’ quest for partial public funding for a new stadium, an issue on which lawmakers of both parties are split.
Senate Republicans have held the majority only since last year, when the GOP took control of both chambers, and all 67 senate seats will be on the ballot in 2012, including a number held by GOP freshmen from swing districts.
Further clouding GOP prospects for 2012, the state party organization is in disarray. It’s still somewhere between $500,000 and $1.2 million in debt after the 2010 election. The party’s chairman, deputy chairman and executive director all have left in recent weeks.