Created: September 12, 2021 11:59 AM
Sen. Jeremy Miller is a Winona man through and through. He was born in the southeastern Minnesota town, graduated from high school there and helps operate the family business: A scrap metal and recycling center.
Now, he's the most powerful Republican on the state level, tasked with guiding a slim Senate majority that has previously removed two members of the DFL governor's cabinet, forced another to resign before a removal vote and is charged with redrawing political maps in a process known as redistricting — all headed into a statewide election year.
"There's no doubt that there will continue to be disagreements. It's politics," Miller told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. "We live in a democracy; there will always be disagreements. But my focus will be working through those disagreements in a respectful and honorable way that represents who we are as Minnesotans."
Miller, who was elected to Majority Leader after Sen. Paul Gazelka stepped down to run for the Governor's office, will be a new face to many Minnesotans. The 38-year-old husband and father of three young boys is widely known and respected around Winona — and throughout the Legislature — but will have to distinguish himself from Gazelka, who will not run for re-election.
"There will be a lot of similarities but there will be some differences. I'm not exactly sure right now what those differences will be," Miller said Sunday on "At Issue."
"What I bring to the Senate is the ability to work together, build bridges, create relationships, and, ultimately, get good things done for the people of the state of Minnesota," he said.
Miller said he has a "good relationship" with Gov. Tim Walz (DFL) and House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park), who will be negotiating partners heading into a possible special session to approve bonus pay for frontline workers, and a short legislative session in 2022. He became Majority Leader after being elected as the state's youngest Senate President — the role that oversees and organizes business on the Senate floor.
The Senate Minority will also be tasked with selecting a new leader. Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) announced she was stepping away from her post as Minority Leader and will not seek re-election. Miller will try to continue to woo votes from two independent Senators: Tom Bakk of Cook and David Tomassoni of Chisholm, who were previously DFLers before leaving the caucus last year.
As the highest-ranking Republican in the state, Miller could become the new face of a party that hasn't won a statewide election since 2006 and is now looking to clean up its public image after Party Chair Jennifer Carnahan resigned and a top political operative and donor, Tony Lazzaro, was arrested on federal child sex trafficking charges.
"I'm confident the party will bounce back from that," Miller told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. "I'm not concerned about that in the least bit."
Copyright 2021 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company