Politics Friday: A new majority leader in the Senate and a Republican vying for Klobuchar’s seat

A woman speaks
Senate majority leader Sen. Erin Murphy speaks at a press conference on the first day of the new session at the State Capitol on Feb. 12.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

It’s the second year for the DFL trifecta at the State Capitol — but the party only has a one seat majority in the Senate and is led by a new face this year.

Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy stepped into the role right as this year’s session began. Her predecessor, Kari Dziedzic gave up the position down after learning her cancer had returned.

MPR News host Brian Bakst sat down with Murphy to discuss how she plans to keep the DFL caucus on the same page and what style she brings to the negotiating table.

Murphy talked about a variety of bills that have been introduced at the Legislature. She is skeptical an immigration-oriented proposal, which backers call the North Star Act, could garner the votes to pass this year. The bill would enhance legal protections for immigrants and limit situations where local and state authorities could work with federal immigration authorities.

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She also said an end-of-life options bill, known to many as an assisted suicide proposal, will also take more time to work through and could spill into a future session. While Murphy said she understands the importance of both bills, she said it’s important that the DFL not get ahead of what Minnesotans are prepared for.  

“This is an issue that is tender for the people of Minnesota, and it can be easily misunderstood,” Murphy said of the bill giving terminally ill Minnesotans more avenues to end their lives with medication. “That’s why I think beginning the hearing process and making sure that the legislation is clear for people so they understand what it would do and what it wouldn’t do is really critical to a successful passage.” 

However, she believes a hearing on the language of the amended school resource officer oversight bill could come as soon as next week. And a sports betting bill is not off the table in the Senate. 

A man poses for a photo outside
Republican Joe Fraser, pictured outside Duluth City Hall on Jan. 30, is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Clay Masters | MPR News

Bakst also had an interview with a Republican who could take on three-term U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar this November. Retired Navy Commander Joe Fraser is a newcomer to the political scene. His entrance into the race makes five Republicans who have taken campaign steps to challenge Klobuchar.

Fraser discussed his support for Ukraine assistance, his stance on immigration matters and his view of the U.S. economy and federal budget.

After being hesitant to endorse former President Donald Trump when he entered the race in January, Fraser has now endorsed Trump as his pick for the Republican presidential nominee.

“I can’t answer for his behavior or the way he carries himself as the President of the United States, but he is who he is,” Fraser said.

And to his seeming lack of enthusiasm of sharing a ticket with Trump, “It just happens to be. I think there are a lot of Democrats out there who aren’t really thrilled to share the ticket with Joe Biden.” 

About the assault on the U.S. Capitol building when members of Congress were certifying the 2020 results, Fraser said he can’t condone that behavior.

“As somebody who swore an oath of support to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and bear faith and allegiances to the same, I have a hard time with anybody who can justify what they did on January 6,” he said.

Editor’s note: Senate candidate Joe Fraser’s interview was shortened for the noon broadcast. We’ve included the full interview in the podcast.


  • State Sen. Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-Saint Paul 

  • U.S. Republican Senate candidate Joe Fraser 

  • MPR News Capitol reporter Clay Masters and Axios Twin Cities reporter Torey Van Oot

Subscribe to the Politics Friday podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or RSS.   

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.