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Democrats in the Minnesota Senate selected Sen. Melisa López Franzen, DFL-Edina, as their new caucus leader. The pick came during a private caucus meeting Monday night.

Franzen is a lawyer and small business owner who was first elected to her suburban senate seat in 2012. She is currently serving her third term. Franzen grew up in Puerto Rico. She is a member of the Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) caucus.

Sen. Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato, who covers St. Peter in his district, was also in the running for the job. He was interested after serving time as an assistant DFL leader in the Senate for the better part of two years; he expects to remain in that position with Franzen stepping up.

“I just think it’s a way to help people within the caucus, the senate, the state,” Frentz said of his interest in the caucus leader position. “That’s what most legislators enjoy — the helping people part.”

He added, “And I hoped to bring a perspective of greater Minnesota.”

Frentz, though, is happy with the selection of Franzen, who he said is a friend.

“I think she’ll be outstanding,” Fretnz said. “We’ve worked together in the Senate and worked together on leadership over the last year. We have an excellent working relationship.”

Franzen replaces Susan Kent, who recently announced she would step down as minority leader and would not seek reelection to her Woodbury senate seat in 2022. Kent said she based those decisions on family matters that need her attention.

Earlier in the summer, Franzen stepped down as assistant minority leader, because she was concerned about the way sexual harassment claims involving staff members had been handled. She also called for an independent investigation.

Senate Republicans also have a new leader. They selected Sen. Jeremy Miller of Winona last week to replace Paul Gazelka as majority leader. Gazelka stepped down from the leadership post to run for governor.

©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved. © 2020 Minnesota Public Radio. All rights reserved.

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