GOP senators signal they may fire some Walz cabinet members

Published 11:23 am Friday, July 2, 2021

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]MINNEAPOLIS — Republicans who control the Minnesota Senate signaled Friday that they may fire one or more of Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s cabinet commissioners.

Tim Walz

GOP Sen. Michelle Benson wouldn’t name the commissioners who might be in danger when pressed by Democratic senators. But she said Republicans plan to “remain vigilant and attentive to the governor’s appointments” when the Senate reconvenes on Tuesday.

The Senate has confirmed only two of Walz’s cabinet members, and it removed two of them during special sessions last summer over disputes with the governor’s administration. The Senate has held off on confirming or rejecting the others in order to retain leverage.

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Some commissioners who’ve taken positions at odds with Republicans have included Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop and Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen.

The Minnesota House adjourned the special session early Thursday and can’t reconvene it. But the Senate merely recessed to allow what Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka billed as a “trust but verify” review to ensure that Walz signed all the bills from the special session and that nothing went wrong.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent demanded a vote on whether to adjourn once and for all, which would have blocked Republicans from moving against the commissioners, but it failed 35-29.