All kidding aside, Flanagan expects time at the helm to be quiet

Gov Flanagan
Gov. Tim Walz signs a bill in a ceremony Tuesday as Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan looks on. Brian Bakst | MPR News


Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan has been getting some extra attention this week -- and will get extra power, too.

“So I have some requests for Thursday,” Sen. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, said to Flanagan after a ceremonial bill signing event Tuesday.

“Stop it. No,” a smiling Flanagan said after a few more playful exchanges about her impending takeover. She's also gotten a bunch of text messages from friends and fellow lawmakers telling her to use the power responsibly.

Flanagan will take the state’s helm for about two hours Thursday while Gov. Tim Walz is sedated for surgery. Flanagan doesn’t plan to make use of his desk or take any official actions.

“While we are usually light-hearted, of course we take this very seriously," she said. "We just want to be transparent about the process. I think it will go very smoothly. I don’t expect any hiccups. But we just want to be prepared. It’s the responsible thing to do. It’s what the statute calls for.”

Walz is having the surgery to repair a knee battered by years of an intense running regimen. He tried to gut it out for awhile. But the stiffness didn't go away, and the damage had only worsened.

“I’ve been pretty crabby," he said. "For about 12 weeks I haven’t been able to run. So I just want to fix it.”

Walz said Flanagan has been a political partner for almost two years and he is comfortable transferring power to his fellow DFLer. He's already sent the letter to legislative leaders advising them that Flanagan will be in charge while he's under the knife.

“She knows that this comes with both ceremonial and real responsibilities," Walz told reporters. "She is fully prepared. And, God forbid, if something would happen during that time -- obviously the chances are relatively slim -- I have the full confidence and the people of Minnesota should that she should be able to do that.”

The governor said it makes sense to prepare.

“A lot of states don’t have preparation to deal with this -- whether it be accident, whether removal from office, whether it be resignation, whatever it might be," Walz said. "There needs to be a process in place to have orderly transition of this. She’ll do fine, and Minnesota is well-prepared.”

Once the anesthesia wears off, Walz will have to affirm he’s ready to resume power. As for the physical recovery, that will take several weeks of resisting the urge to run.

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