Senate DFL leader López Franzen won’t run again; Osmek out too

a woman stands in front of a podium
Sen. Melisa López Franzen, DFL-Edina, the day after she was elected leader of the Senate DFL caucus in September 2021.
Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Updated 7 p.m.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen announced Wednesday she won’t seek a new term this fall, the latest political fallout from new legislative boundaries that put some incumbents in a bind. 

Hours later, Republican Senate President David Osmek said he too would exit following the current term. As president, Osmek is the presiding officer in a chamber his party controls.

López Franzen’s departure announced to her Edina-area constituents in a letter and video comes about a week after she learned she was paired with another DFL lawmaker. More of the new district has been represented by Sen. Ron Latz, who affirmed his intention to run late last week.

López Franzen indicated it was a tough call.

“I intend to continue to serve in my leadership role with my caucus until the end of my term,” she said in the video. “As I step away from elected office into the next chapter of my career, I can assure you that I will continue to dedicate my work to the prosperity of our state and the issues that matter most to Minnesotans.”

López Franzen faced two choices: Run against Latz for the DFL nomination or move to an open district.

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López Franzen has two young children, which made the prospect of a short-notice move even more problematic. Relocating lawmakers must establish residency in the district they’re running in by early May.

Latz said he was saddened by the news she would leave office.

“We were unfortunately redistricted together, an event neither of us were prepared for and one that we discussed at great length together,” he said in a written statement. “Senator López Franzen has served her community well and has been an exemplary caucus leader during an especially challenging time in our state. I greatly respect her and her decision, and I will sincerely miss her leadership in the Minnesota Senate.”

López Franzen became leader in September 2021 after then-caucus leader Susan Kent stepped aside. López Franzen has been a senator since 2013.

She said she was most proud of her work on early learning scholarships and tax credits, measures around prescription drug costs, student loan borrowing transparency and a law to require carbon monoxide detectors on boats. She is also chief sponsor of a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis, which has stalled in the Senate.

Osmek, of Mound, leaves after a run in the Senate that mirrors López Franzen’s in duration. Like her, he had been in a paired district although faced the prospect of running against a DFL incumbent. He called his Senate service “one of the greatest privileges of my life.”

“In my retirement, I look forward to continuing to engage in Minnesota’s political discourse advocating for all Minnesotans, a need for smaller government, and a focus on the preservation of individual liberties and freedoms,” Osmek said.

The new maps are contributing to a coming Capitol shakeup, with heavy turnover in seats already assured. 

Minnesota Legislative Districts - Statewide.
A side-by-side image of two statewide maps of Minnesota's legislative districts, from 2012 and 2022.
Minnesota Judicial Branch

And that has been pronounced among women senators. Eight of 21 women now serving in the Senate will leave after this term, a few after being paired with a colleague but a couple to try for a different office.

The House also had a healthy share of pairings, but most of them are clearing ahead of the campaign.

The latest resolution involves House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt of Zimmerman. He was paired with fellow Republican Rep. Sondra Erickson, his former teacher. Erickson, of Princeton, said she’ll retire and back Daudt.

He’s in line to lead the House should Republicans reclaim the majority.

Since a special court panel released the new maps, several incumbent faceoffs have been resolved in most cases through retirements, a member announcing a move or lawmakers trying for a different office.

Of the matchups remaining in the House, most involve paired Democrats or members of different parties. Republicans have just one head-to-head remaining.