ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota senators may not be facing an election for a few more years, but one top Democrat is already focusing on regaining the majority.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (D-Cook) said last week his one ambition is to flip the majority in the Senate from Republican to Democrat in the next few years.
“I have one ambition that I think about every day, including today,” Bakk told the Pioneer Press, “About how we flip the majority — 34-33 — and that is what I am spending all my political considerations on. And it will continue to be that until we make that flip.”
Minnesota senators are elected for four year terms in election years ending in two and six, and two year terms in election years ending in zero. The 2016 election gave Republicans four years to hold on to the Senate majority. However, if a senator were to seek higher office, like the governorship, a special election would open the door for a change in majority to happen sooner. Bakk himself has been floated as a potential candidate for governor. He believes something will happen in the next four years to turn the tide in the Democrats’ favor.
“It is going to happen before 2020,” he said. “I think there are a number of paths.”
Despite the strong words from Bakk, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) is not worried about holding onto the majority.
“I lose no sleep about losing the majority. I don’t even think about it,” Gazelka told Alpha News. “I can tell you myself and the other 33 Republican senators love what we are doing here. I can’t predict the future, so I don’t spend any time thinking about that.”
As the majority leader, Gazelka does admit to spending time thinking about how to get all 34 Republican senators to agree on issues, something he feels they have been successful in so far.
“We stopped the collapse of the healthcare crisis, and now we are going to work on driving down the cost of healthcare. We passed $100 million in roads and bridges FAST Act. A number of things are getting done,” Gazelka said. “We are focused on good policy and making Minnesota prosper.”
Gazelka believes the progress made this session by the Republican-held legislature reflects positively on the party in power. As long as they keep up the momentum, he believes there is no reason to be concerned about losing the majority.
“Minnesotans want to see that their government is working. When you have a divided government, they want to see that you can build bridges, get things done, and do right by Minnesotans,” Gazelka said. “As long as we continue to do what we say, I think that’s a positive thing.”