By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Senate Republican Caucus has an interim leader.

On Thursday, Senate Republicans announced that Deputy Leader Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks) has been elected interim leader until an election for a permanent leader can be held in the coming weeks.

Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) announced on Wednesday his stepping down as Senate Majority Leader to pursue the “next chapter in my political life.” Gazelka did not elaborate on what that next chapter would be, but he has said he is leaning toward running for governor.

Four other Republicans are already in the race: State Sen. Michelle Benson, who joined the race Wednesday, physician and former state senator Scott Jensen, Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy, and Neil Shah, a doctor.

In a statement to his colleagues, Gazelka wrote that outside of his family and faith, leading the caucus has been the “most rewarding experience of my life.” He listed a number of accomplishments for Senate Republicans over his five years in leadership, such as cutting income tax for the first time in two decades and winning back-to-back Republican majorities for the first time in state history.