With the Minnesota Legislature slated to begin session within the next week, the GOP majority in the Senate is secure -----for now.
A Minnesota judge dismissed a lawsuit against state Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, Monday, declaring that she can hold both her seat in the legislature and the title of lieutenant governor—at least for now.
The case was brought by one of Fischbach's constituents in Minnesota's Senate District 13, alleging that her right to representation had been infringed by Fischbach holding both jobs simultaneously.
Judge John H. Guthmann wrote in his court order Monday, however, that until Fischbach takes her seat when the legislature reconvenes Feb. 20 it is impossible to tell what the potential harm to constituents--like Destiny Dusosky of Sauk Rapids who filed the suit--may be.
"Petitioner demonstrates no more than a hypothetical injury because it is not known whether defendant will take her seat, whether defendant will cast a vote, or whether the Minnesota Senate will allow her to serve," he wrote in the order.
Fireworks may be in the works for the first day of the legislative session next week if Democrats seek to stop Fischbach from taking her seat, which she has held since 1996.
The case was ultimately dismissed without prejudice, meaning the lawsuit could be refiled once Fischbach takes her seat, though Guthmann also noted in his order that he wasn't sure the court even held the power to expel an elected official without holding a recall election first.
With Fischbach keeping her rightful place in the Senate, the GOP would maintain their scant 34-33 majority. It seemed that Little Lord Fauntleroy Gov. Mark Dayton was attempting to undermine the Republican majority in that chamber by elevating Fischbach to the position of Lt. Gov., thus leaving the Senate deadlocked if it was determined she couldn't hold both positions.
All that said, this could've been rendered moot if the MN GOP flipped the senate seat in SD54, which had been held by DFLer Dan Schoen until he resigned over allegations of sexual harassment. As such, a special election was held Monday to fill the sudden vacancy. If Republican Denny McNamara could prevail over DFL candidate Karla Bigham, the GOP majority would increase to 35-32, thus guaranteeing said majority would remain intact if Fischbach were somehow forced to move on from the Senate. Alas, there will be no such "safety net" as Bigham won Monday's special election by 3.5% over McNamara.
There was also a special election held on Monday for the MN House seat formerly occupied by Republican Tony Cornish, who also resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Not a lot of mystery in that race however, as GOP candidate Jeremy Munson won by nearly 20 points against DFLer Melissa Wagner in HD 23B. With that result, the House Republicans maintain their solid 77-57 majority.
As I alluded to earlier, the 2018 MN legislative session kicks off next week. However, it appears all three co-equal branches of Minnesota government will be making some serious news over the next few months.