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Former House Speaker Rod Searle, 24-year Minnesota lawmaker, dies at 93

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A former Speaker of the House whom the Mankato Free Press describes as a legendary figure in the Minnesota Legislature has died. Rod Searle was 93.

The Free Press reports Searle left an urban background in New Jersey in 1947 and moved to a farm near Waseca with little knowledge of agriculture. He found success in farming and in politics, serving two dozen years at the state Capitol. He died at his farm Sunday accompanied by his wife and daughter, the Free Press says.

As the Legislative Reference Library recounts, Searle's colleagues elected him Speaker at a time when the House was evenly divided between Republicans and DFLers.

A Minnesota Historical Society biography notes that under the agreement hatched before the 1979 session, Searle, a Republican, shared power with DFLer Irv Anderson. Searle later chronicled the unusual arrangement in a book called "Minnesota Standoff: The Politics of Deadlock."

Searle's popularity among his south central Minnesota constituents was undeniable. A former campaign manager tells the Free Press Searle often had no opponent and regularly garnered more than 70 percent of the votes cast in his district. The newspaper notes that after retiring from the Legislature Searle moved away from the Republican partly and in 2010 endorsed the Independence Party's candidate for governor.

A funeral service is planned on Friday in Owatonna.

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