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Editorial: Koch's affair is hurting the GOP

The Minnesota Senate is reeling under the resignation of former Majority Leader Amy Koch and the recent disclosure of her inappropriate relationship with one of her male staffers.

The full story on the Koch affair has not completely been told, but it is already having a significant impact upon politics within the Republican Party as well as across the state.

The senator from Buffalo has been a quick riser within the Republican Party as well as in the Legislature. She coordinated the Senate Republican Caucus 2010 campaign, which swept Republicans to a Senate majority for the first time in nearly 40 years. First elected in 2005, she became the first female Majority Leader in state history.

In her short one year as majority leader, Koch has been lauded as a tough politician, a strong leader and a role model. She was widely considered as a strong Republican candidate to run for Congress if Michele Bachmann does not seek re-election in her district.

What a difference a week can make in the world of politics?

Koch has been silent since Thursday when she announced her resignation as majority leader. She also said she would not seek re-election in 2012, but intended to complete her term.

On Friday, Senate leaders announced that Koch had resigned over allegations of an "inappropriate relationship" with a male staffer and did not identify him.

Then late Friday the powerful Senate communications chief Michael Brodkorb reportedly was informed that he was no longer employed by the Senate and was barred from the premises. He has been a Republican activist, who rose to be assistant chair of the Republican Party as well as the Senate's communications director over the past year.

No one has yet confirmed or denied that Brodkorb is or was involved in the Koch affair.

The full facts of the Koch affair remain to be disclosed.

However, Koch's fall from grace has created many significant challenges for the Republican Party.

- The state liability in the Koch affair remains unresolved. If Koch remains in office to complete her term and her male staff was indeed terminated, it looks like a lawsuit in the making. In addition, Brodkorb has reportedly obtained a lawyer this week.

- Senate Republicans now must agree upon a new leader, who will have to lead an election effort in all 67 districts due to the 2012 redistricting. They will miss Koch's leadership and political skills.

- Legislative Republicans have been the driving force behind the proposed constitutional amendment to restrict marriage to between one man and one woman. The Koch affair will not help the marriage amendment effort.

- The state Republican Party was already dealing with the resignation of the state chair and vice chair and a mounting debt problem that remains unresolved from the 2010 election and the governor race recount.

- The resulting political shakeout will also affect and/or complicate a large number of statewide issues -- from a Vikings stadium solution to the state budget and beyond.

The Senate Republicans elect a new majority leader Tuesday and begin their restructuring effort. The state Republicans will elect a new chair by the end of the month.

The major question is what impact all these Republican challenges will have upon the 2012 elections. The fact that the election is not until November is the only good luck the state GOP has had recently.