Reporting Rachel Slavik
ROSEVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota Senate Republicans have a new leader. They chose Dave Senjem of Rochester Tuesday night. He will replace Sen. Amy Koch, who resigned amid accusations she had an improper relationship with a male staffer.
The GOP caucus made the decision after a marathon session at a Roseville hotel that lasted nearly 11 hours. All 37 Senate Republicans voted by secret ballot around 8 p.m. Tuesday.
As the announcement came in, the majority of the Senate caucus stood behind Sen. Senjem. The person who was noticeably absent was Sen. Koch. Senjem said she did cast a ballot.
Senjem said he’s honored to take over the position, but would not discuss why this election took 11 hours. Whoever takes over the role will have a big say in two major issues this upcoming legislative session: Gambling expansion and the possibility of a publicly financed Vikings stadium. But Senjem and other senators said those issues were not the driving force in the decision, rather it was finding the best leader for the GOP senate caucus.
“Over the course of the last two weeks we’ve gone through a difficult period. All directions now are looking forward, no more looking backward,” said Senjem, the newly-elected Senate Majority Leader.
The entire leadership team within the Senate Republican caucus will also change. Senators Paul Gazelka, Ted Lillie, Roger Chamberlain and Claire Robling will take over as the new leadership team.
When asked why the change, Senjem said the former team volunteered to step down without any pressure.