Gazelka stepping down from post as Senate majority leader

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Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is resigning as his chamber’s top Republican.

Gazelka confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS this morning the resignation is effective as soon as the Senate elects a new majority leader.

KSTP Chief Political Reporter Tom Hauser reports Gazelka’s announcement comes as he’s likely to soon announce a run for governor.

Also on Wednesday, Republican State Sen. Michelle Benson, of Ham Lake, officially launched her campaign for governor.

At a news conference later Wednesday at the Senate booth at the Minnesota State Fair, Gazelka clarified why he’s making the move.

"I’m leaning towards running for governor so that hasn’t changed," Gazelka said. "I certainly want to get through the fair. I just feel like this is a perfect opportunity to really talk to all the people from Minnesota, from all over Minnesota. And just really have a sense of what they think. What’s important to them. So before I make any other decision besides stepping down I just want to finish the fair and then I’ll make a decison sometime pretty quick after that."

Here is the email Gazelka sent to the GOP caucus Wednesday morning:


Five years ago, under bittersweet conditions, I was honored to be elected leader of the Senate Republican Caucus. I have those same bittersweet feelings today as I announce my intention to step aside as your leader.

Outside of my family life, and my faith in God, leading this caucus has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I am so grateful for what we’ve accomplished together:

  • Finding agreement on three consecutive budgets without raising taxes, over the strong objections of both Governors Mark Dayton and Tim Walz.
  • Cutting income tax rates for the first time in 20 years in addition to tax cuts for Social Security income and small business and agriculture property taxes.
  • Blocking an exhaustive list of policies pursued by the DFL that would have slowed the growth in our economy, taken away rights and freedoms and worst of all, harmed our families.
  • Growing the caucus from a razor-thin one vote majority in 2017 to a comfortable working majority through special election victories and by strategically attracting centrist Democrats to join our efforts.
  • Building a culture of respect in the organization — respect for members in both parties, staff, lobbyists and the public. Solidifying our reputation as the “adults in the room.”
  • Raising and spending record amounts in the 2020 election, winning back-to-back Republican majorities in the Senate for the first time in history even in the face of a strong Democratic wave.

These accomplishments were possible because we stuck to our principles and communicated directly with the people of Minnesota. Again, I am so very grateful for the work we’ve accomplished together and believe the caucus is in very strong position to be successful in the 2022 session and the subsequent election.

I plan to be part of that future success but look forward letting someone else take over serving as leader while I pursue the next chapter in my political life.

It has been an honor.


Paul Gazelka

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