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GOP Sen. Jeremy Miller looks to compromise as new majority leader in Minnesota Senate

The former Senate president was elected Sept. 8 to lead the caucus after former Majority Leader Paul Gazelka stepped down to pursue a bid for governor.

010919.N.FNS.MNSESSION Miller Senate Pres
Minnesota State Sen. Jeremy Miller (left), R-Winona, speaks with Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, Jan. 8, 2019, before the Senate reconvened for the 2019 legislative session. Miller was elected Senate president along party lines by a 34-31 vote. Michael Brun / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — Republicans in the Minnesota Senate late on Wednesday, Sept. 8, elected state Sen. Jeremy Miller of Winona to lead their caucus.

Miller is set to step into the position of Senate Majority Leader after former Leader Paul Gazelka , R-East Gull Lake, last week resigned the post to pursue a bid for governor. Miller has served in the state Senate for a decade and in 2019 he became the youngest person to serve as Senate president.

He's also developed a reputation at the Capitol for bridging partisan divides during his tenure and told reporters on Thursday, Sept. 9, that he was hopeful that he could bring forth compromise in the new position.

Miller will take on the role of the highest-ranking Republican in the state and will sit at the table with Gov. Tim Walz and House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, in negotiating deals in the divided Capitol.

"One of my biggest frustrations is how negative the political divide and how divisive the political divide has gotten, it seems to have worse every year that I've been here and I don't think it has to be that way," Miller said. "There can certainly be disagreements on issues, there are going to be disagreements on issues, that's the way democracy works but I feel we can work through those disagreements in a respectful manner and that's what I hope to accomplish as the next Senate majority leader."

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MORE FROM THE CAPITOL:

  • $250 million in Minnesota front-line worker hero payments still stuck in negotiations A state working group buzzed past its Labor Day deadline without a deal on who should get the funds or how much they'd be eligible to receive.

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she has been successfully treated for breast cancer The Minnesota Democrat in a Thursday, Sept. 9 statement said that she had put off her routine mammogram during the coronavirus pandemic, and she's fortunate her cancer had not developed further.

  • Republican Paul Gazelka announces bid for Minnesota governor The former Senate majority leader has garnered a reputation in St. Paul as a dealmaker and negotiator, clinching budget deals with the Democratic governor's office and state House year after year.

Miller touted Republican priorities in the Legislature such as lowering taxes, prioritizing small businesses and law enforcement and stabilizing the state's health care markets. And he said the caucus' top concerns in the next year would center around making sound investments in a bonding bill and conducting a fair and transparent redistricting process.
"We're a strong caucus, we're a united caucus and we're ready to get good things done for the people," he said.

Miller works as the chief financial officer for Wm. Miller Iron & Metal Co., a family-owned and operated business. He lives in Winona with his wife and three sons.

Senate Democrats are also set to elect a new leader on Monday, Sept. 13, after Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent , DFL-Woodbury, announced that she would step down and not seek reelection. She said she hopes to spend more time with family, including her mother who is in assisted living.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email dferguson@forumcomm.com

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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