The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 8, 2012

Minnesota Democrats choose leaders


Associated Press

— Democrats, fresh off an electoral win that put them in charge of both chambers of the Legislature, picked their leaders Thursday.

No local Democrats were among those selected for leadership positions in party meetings, though both chambers have yet to pick chairs for most of their committees.

Senate

In the state Senate, Tom Bakk, from the northern Minnesota city of Cook, was elected as majority leader during the afternoon caucus at a St. Paul hotel.

Katie Sieben, a senator from the southeast Twin Cities suburbs, was selected as one of his two deputies, Sen. Kathy Sheran, D-Mankato, said. Bakk will select a second deputy, who Sheran expects to "reflect the diversity of our caucus."

Sen. Rod Skoe, from northwestern Minnesota, will be the Democrats" tax chair.

It's an important position to the city of Mankato, which relies heavily on local government aid.

And this could be a good pick for the city, as City Manager Pat Hentges said tax chairs from greater Minnesota tend to be more concerned about local government aid than their metro-area counterparts. It's too soon to know, of course, how Sen. Skoe or the Legislature will prioritize local government aid when it's time to set a budget.

Sen. Richard Cohen, from St. Paul, will chair the finance committee and Sandra Pappas of St. Paul will be the president of the Senate, Sheran said.

Because she is about halfway down the seniority list among the Senate's 39 Democrats, Sheran is not expecting her own committee.

"That's a lot of committees that would have to be developed," she said.

In the next few weeks, Democrats will ask their members which committees they want to be seated on. They've also formed a committee to select the rest of their committee chairs.

House

Later in the evening at the State Office Building, House Democrats met and chose Paul Thissen, of Minneapolis, as their speaker, Rep. Kathy Brynaert, D-Mankato, said.

The Democrats chose Erin Murphy, of St. Paul, as their majority leader. Brynaert nominated and spoke briefly about Murphy.

Brynaert said there were good feelings at the meeting.

"Obviously, there's a sense of celebration of the successes of the last many months realized Tuesday night," she said.

They'll choose committee chairs during meetings and a December retreat.



The Associated Press contributed to this article.