Fischbach quits Senate, takes MN lieutenant governor post

Michelle Fischbach took the oath of office for lieutenant governor.
Michelle Fischbach took the oath of office for lieutenant governor, administered by Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson on Friday, May 25, 2018, at the Capitol.
Briana Bierschbach | MPR News

Updated: 11:46 a.m. | Posted: 7:50 a.m.

Michelle Fischbach officially resigned as a state senator Friday and took the oath of office for lieutenant governor, ending a legal battle that had challenged her unusual situation as holder of those two jobs.

Fischbach, a Paynesville Republican elected in 1996, involuntarily stepped into the lieutenant governor post in January after Gov. Mark Dayton named then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith as a U.S. senator to replace a resigning Al Franken.

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The state constitution called for Fischbach, as Senate president, to fill the lieutenant governor vacancy. Fischbach argued she could also keep her job in the state Senate. Others, including Dayton, disagreed.

Senate President Michelle Fischbach smiles at photographers in the gallery.
Senate President Michelle Fischbach smiles at photographers in the gallery prior to convening the Minnesota Senate Feb. 20, 2018, in St. Paul.
Jim Mone | AP file

The question ended up in court. One lawsuit challenging Fischbach's dual roles as lieutenant governor and senator was tossed out in February. A second suit was set for a hearing next month. That suit is expected to be dropped given Fischbach's resignation from the state Senate.

Her decision splits the Senate evenly at 33 Republicans and 33 Democrats. Fischbach said she waited until the end of the legislative session to resign from her seat because she felt her Senate District 13 constituents needed a representative at the Capitol.

Dayton's office said the governor will call a special election to fill Fischbach's Senate seat to coincide with the November general election. Fischbach said she will not run in the special election.

When asked if she has made plans to serve as lieutenant governor on any other candidate's ticket in the future, Fischbach focused on her service today.

"There's lots of things that go on out there, right now I'm here to talk about my 22 years of service and becoming lieutenant governor," she said. "If there's questions about that, there may be other folks that you want to ask."

Dayton said that the working relationship between him and Fischbach has been excellent, although the Republican and Democrat don't always see eye to eye.

"We'll just agree to disagree," Dayton said. "I think Minnesotans have gotten used to that."