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Sen. Gimse of Willmar, Minn., considers run for Senate majority leader

WILLMAR -- Saying he would be a "calming voice" and provide "decisive leadership" during a time when the Republican Party is in turmoil, Sen. Joe Gimse said he's considering making a bid to be Senate majority leader.

In an interview Monday, Gimse said Senate Republicans need a leader that can "bring the caucus together" following the abrupt resignation last week of Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch from the post. She has said she will not resign her Senate seat.

Since revelations that Koch resigned amid reports that she had an inappropriate relationship with a male staffer, the party has been scrambling to find its footing and find a new majority leader.

Gimse, of Willmar, said the caucus must meet and select a new majority leader within 10 days of Koch's resignation, which means the process needs to be completed before Dec. 29.

While declining to divulge names, Gimse said a number of GOP senators are considering running for the post and that he is in the "early stages" of reaching his own decision on whether to run for the highly visible job.

"I am considering it, just like the others are considering," said Gimse, adding that the caucus needs a leader that can "bring everyone together and calm the waters."

If there isn't a candidate that he can support, Gimse said he may offer himself for the job.

The prospect is "exciting," Gimse said. "You think about the awesome responsibility that goes with a position li-ke that."

Knowing that the job would put him under the state's microscope doesn't sc-are him and Gimse said he wouldn't be "pushed by special interests and lobbyists" to bring issues to the Senate floor and that he would ensure there was "open discussion on every issue."

Gimse, who was first elected to the Senate in 2006 when he defeated then Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, said he's discussed running for majority leader with political colleagues and his wife, Lanae, who Gimse said has expressed support for whatever decision he makes.

He said he will make a decision by early next week,

If he is elected majority leader, Gimse said his top priority would be to pay schools back for the funding shift and to bring "reform legislation" to the Senate floor, including making changes to permitting and environmental regulations that affect businesses.

Regarding Koch, Gimse said he has always "worked well" with the former majority leader and respects her leadership. He said he "feels bad" for Koch but was "definitely disappointed" by the recent news.

He said Koch's resignation as majority leader was appropriate, and best for the Republi

can Party and the Senate. Whether Koch totally forfeits her Senate seat is a decision that only she can make, Gimse said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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