Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka is stepping down

He's been mulling a run for governor.

Minnesota's highest-ranking Republican is stepping down.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, announced via email to members of his caucus Wednesday morning he's stepping down from his role as leader of the Senate Republican Caucus. 

Gazelka, who was elected Senate Majority Leader five years ago, goes on to list accomplishments, including growing the caucus, blocking "an exhaustive list of policies pursued by the DFL," winning back-to-back majorities in the Senate and cutting income tax rates. 

"I'm so very grateful for the work we've accomplished together and believe the caucus is in a very strong position to be successful in the 2022 session and the subsequent election," Gazelka said in the email. "I plan to be a part of that future success but look forward to letting someone else take over serving as leader while I pursue the next chapter in my political life."

Gazelka doesn't say what his plan is next. However, his move is a likely sign that he's set to announce a run for governor in 2022. He'd said he would step down as Senate Majority Leader prior to entering the governor's race.

On WCCO Radio Wednesday morning, Gazelka said he's still leaning toward running for governor but says he wants to get through the Minnesota State Fair, where he's been talking to fairgoers, before announcing his next step. 

"Find me at the fair and maybe you'll find out more," Gazelka said. 

Not long after Gazelka's announcement, Minnesota Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, shared she is running for governor (an announcement that was scheduled prior to Gazelka's news). 

"Sen. Benson, she's a good senator and she's a good candidate if I perhaps get in the race, then I would certainly talk about how I might be a stronger candidate, but she's good — I'm glad she's getting in the race. She's a first-class person," Gazelka said on WCCO Radio.

The list of Republican gubernatorial candidates also includes former state Sen. Scott Jensen; Neil Shah, a dermatologist; activist Bob Carney; and Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy, according to MPR News' Brian Bakst.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, has not formally announced if he'll run again in 2022. Though he's expected to and has made comments encouraging people who are mad at the state's COVID-19 restrictions to follow them so they'll be alive to vote against him in 2022. 

Candidates for governor and other state offices in 2022 can file their affidavit of candidacy during the filing period, which is May 17-May 31, 2022, according to the Secretary of State's Office

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-10-15 at 10.01.55 PM

Police still searching for suspect who opened fire at Plymouth movie theater

It sparked a partial evacuation of the Emagine Willow Creek theater.

covid, vaccine

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, October 18

Hospitalizations have surpassed 1,000 in the latest update.

Gully Boys van stolen Twitter pic 1

Mpls. band Gully Boys' van stolen, with all their gear inside

They're asking Twin Cities residents to be on the lookout for the silver van.

ATV, all-terrain vehicle

2 girls from St. Cloud injured in ATV crash

Neither girl was wearing a helmet, the sheriff's office said.

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins has turned into a late-game killer for the Vikings

Cousins has given the Vikings a chance to tie or win the game 7 times in 6 games.

john oliver

Watch: The absurd ad 'Last Week Tonight' wrote for a MN car dealership

Host John Oliver described the commercial as a "tense domestic psychodrama."

Car driving

Minnesota is on track for the most road deaths since 2007

Minnesota has recorded 384 traffic deaths as of Oct. 14.


1 dead, 1 airlifted following Goodhue County crash

The crash happened around 6:15 a.m. Sunday.

railroad crossing, train crossing

Woman found dead on train tracks in Moorhead

The woman was located by officials on train tracks near Memorial Park Sunday morning.

police tape, crime scene

Search for killer after man is fatally shot in Hopkins

The shooting was reported around 7:40 p.m. Sunday.


gazelka paul

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has COVID-19

Gazelka has had symptoms since last Monday.

gazelka paul

Report: Gazelka refuses to reveal total COVID cases in GOP outbreak

The senate majority leader is under fire for his handling of the situation.

Senator Jeremy Miller

Sen. Jeremy Miller elected Republican caucus leader, replacing Gazelka

He'll officially be named Senate Majority Leader once the Senate is in session again.

paul gazelka

Gazelka's 'I've always said COVID-19 is serious' tweet raises eyebrows

The Senate Majority Leader has attracted plenty of attention for a Thursday tweet.

paul gazelka

MN Senate GOP takes steps to keep majority in case of a Klobuchar cabinet position

Paul Gazelka introduced a motion Tuesday to make independent Sen. David Tomassoni president pro tempore of the Senate.

paul gazelka

Minnesota Senate to hold hearings on Twin Cities riots

DFLers upset, call for criminal justice reforms instead.

Screen Shot 2021-09-03 at 9.13.52 AM

DFL Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent stepping down, won't seek reelection

The announcement comes as Kent faces criticism over the party's handling of recent allegations of sexual harassment by a former staffer.

Screen Shot 2021-09-08 at 9.12.44 AM

Republican Paul Gazelka announces run for governor

He has been the Senate Majority Leader in the Minnesota Legislature since 2016.