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WCCO Interview: Sen. Koch On Stepping Down, Aftermath

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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ST. PAUL (WCCO) — In her first television interview since she stepped down as Minnesota’s Senate Majority Leader, Amy Koch is rethinking her decision not to run for reelection after admitting she had an inappropriate relationship with a Senate staffer.

Koch told WCCO TV she’s had “overwhelming positive reaction” from her constituents, and that she’ll be back at the Capitol Tuesday when the 2012 legislative session begins.

“I’ve been getting fairly overwhelming support from my district, and people are asking me to reconsider that. It was too hasty,” said Koch in the interview Friday.

Koch still refuses to identify the staffer with whom she had a relationship, or whether that relationship continues.

“I have certainly made mistakes, and I apologize for those mistakes,” said Koch. “I’m not talking about them. I’m just going to move forward.”

In the interview with WCCO-TV in her Wright County Senate district, Koch said she was “shocked” by her fellow Republicans at the Minneapolis Club in mid-December when they confronted her about “improper conduct.” Except for her chief of staff in September, Koch said no Senator, and no other staffer, ever came to her with a complaint.

When the sex scandal exploded, Koch says she retreated to protect her daughter and save her marriage.

“Anybody who has been through anything like this — and probably most people have been through some kind of pain in their life — understand that it’s been incredibly difficult,” she said.

When asked what she thinks the hardest part is, she said, “Obviously, the personal issues are the hardest part.”

“For me, sort of the mantra that I tell myself every day is that failure isn’t falling down. Refusing to get up is,” said Koch. “Everybody falls down, but you can either decide to wallow in that, or you can decide to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and go do what you do. And some hours that might be difficult, but I have chosen to pick myself up and move on.”

As Senate Majority Leader, Koch led Republicans through a turbulent year that included a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. During the interview, she wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, although she said she was still married and that she believes strongly in marriage.

Koch also said she sees no contradiction in her enabling an amendment for the sanctity of marriage – a concept that seems to have eluded her.

“This is a really difficult personal issue,” she said. “But the marriage amendment is a question…the people of Minnesota will decide. It’s not about any one relationship at all.”

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