Kubly laments lack of rural voice in Senate leadership

ST. PAUL -- Sen. Gary Kubly said he is disappointed that only one of the top four DFL leadership positions in the Senate will be held by a rural legislator.

ST. PAUL -- Sen. Gary Kubly said he is disappointed that only one of the top four DFL leadership positions in the Senate will be held by a rural legislator.

The Granite Falls DFL'er said the four positions should have been equally shared by rural and metro senators.

On Thursday afternoon the DFL Caucus selected Sen. Larry Pogemiller of Minneapolis as the new majority leader.

Pogemiller will replace Sen. Dean Johnson of Willmar, who has held the Senate's most powerful position since January of 2004.

Johnson was narrowly defeated Tuesday by Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, in an upset election.


Kubly said Johnson did attend the Senate DFL Caucus for nearly two hours Thursday. "It was pretty emotional in a lot of ways. We had people openly crying," Kubly said. "The emotion was running pretty high."

Kubly said Johnson "was gracious, as he has always been" and assured his Senate colleagues that he would be OK and would move on. "He is pretty resilient," said Kubly.

The defeat of Johnson by voters in the general election and the selection of Pogemiller by DFL senators mean a decrease of rural representation in the Senate leadership, said Kubly.

Kubly said he did not vote for Pogemiller but had thrown his support to one of the two rural legislators who had been in the running for majority leader -- Sen. Thomas Bakk of Cook and Sen. Keith Langseth of Glyndon.

Bakk was given one of the top four assignments when the caucus named him chairman of the tax committee.

The other top jobs were given to metro senators. Sen. James Metzen of South St. Paul was named president of the Senate and Sen. Richard Cohen of St. Paul was named chairman of the finance committee.

Although a tally of the votes for majority leader was not made public, Kubly said he believes the votes among the senators went along rural and urban lines.

Kubly said Pogemiller is very knowledgeable about politics and the goals of the Democratic Party, including improvements in education, health care, transportation and tax relief. Pogemiller also told the caucus he would try to work with Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty to find common ground to move the state forward.


"We need to give him a chance and see what he can do," said Kubly of Pogemiller.

Kubly, who was elected to the House in 1996 and to the Senate in 2002, said he may have a good chance to be named chairman of a committee this year.

He said he has his eye on the jobs, renewable energy and community development committee, which he said would be a good fit for his district because of the wind turbines and ethanol facilities there.

"I would have some things to offer as chair of that committee," he said.

During the caucus, DFL'ers reorganized committees and were introduced to the 15 new DFL senators elected Tuesday. Kubly said seven of those 15 represent rural districts.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
What To Read Next
Get Local