The Minnesota Senate’s 34-member DFL caucus selected St. Paul Sen. Erin Murphy as its new majority leader on Tuesday, following last week’s unexpected announcement by the leader. Kari Dziedzic that she would leave her position due to her state of health.
Democrats met behind closed doors for a few hours to choose a new leader, then gathered outside the Senate chamber for a brief statement from Murphy.
Murphy thanked Dziedzic, who was not there, and stressed that she remains a leader in the caucus. “She showed us that if we choose to stand together and act together, we can do important things to make Minnesotans better lives,” Murphy said. “And we, together, are engaged in the same thing.”
Senate President Bobby Joe Champion of DFL-Minneapolis, who also ran for majority leader, stood to Murphy’s right. Senate DFLers did not share the vote tally and Murphy took no questions before leading the senators back into a hallway behind a locked door.
Murphy acknowledged the lingering sadness over Dziedzic’s passing. departure given that she had led the caucus through a historically productive session that included protections for abortion access, free school meals, driver’s licenses for all, and restoration of voting rights to more than 50,000 felons.
As the Senate passed massive policy changes, Dziedzic worked remotely, negotiating as she faced a cancer diagnosis and underwent major surgery.
With just a 34-33 advantage over the GOP in the Senate, Dziedzic held the party together. Her colleagues praised her as a consensus builder who elevated others and avoided the spotlight.
Murphy comes from the more progressive wing of the DFL. She ran for governor in 2018, receiving a DFL endorsement but losing resoundingly to Gov. Tim Walz in the primary that year.
Senate Tax Chairwoman Ann Rest of DFL-New Hope said she doesn’t think anyone in the caucus can do the job as well as Dziedzic, but that the caucus is committed to staying united. “We will be enthusiastic and firm…