DFL chair calls on Sen. Nicole Mitchell to resign days after session ends

"This is purely a power grab," Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson said in a radio interview Thursday morning on KTLK AM 1130.

DFL Sen. Nicole Mitchell was arrested in April after allegedly breaking into her stepmother's home. (Minnesota Senate Media)

Just a little more than a week after the legislative session ended in Minnesota, the DFL Party has called for the resignation of beleaguered Sen. Nicole Mitchell — who faces felony burglary charges stemming from her arrest at her elderly stepmother’s home in northwest Minnesota last month.

Republican leaders in the Senate said the timing of such a statement after session has concluded is “hypocrisy” and a political ploy leading up to the November election.

“The Minnesota DFL believes that all elected officials should be held accountable, including members of our own party,” DFL Chairman Ken Martin said in a statement released Thursday morning.

“While Sen. Mitchell is entitled to her day in court, her continued refusal to take responsibility for her actions is beneath her office and has become a distraction for her district and the legislature,” Martin continued. “Now that her constituents have had full representation through the end of the legislative session, it is time for her to resign to focus on the personal and legal challenges she faces.”

Mitchell, a first-term lawmaker from Woodbury, was arrested Monday, April 22 after police found her in her elderly stepmother’s Detroit Lakes home before dawn. The legislature was not in session that day. Police took her into custody, and the following day Mitchell, 49, was charged with felony first-degree burglary.

Mitchell’s arrest upended the final days of the legislative session as Republicans argued she should resign or face discipline from the chamber. Democrats used their one-seat majority — including Mitchell’s own vote — to defeat a handful of Republican motions on the floor that would have prevented Mitchell from voting on legislation.

DFL Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy issued a statement the day Mitchell returned to the Senate following her arrest that stopped short of saying Mitchell should face any immediate discipline.

Republicans filed an ethics complaint against Mitchell and attempted multiple times to censure and expel her from the Senate, but DFL Senate leaders argued any sanction or discipline was premature before the adjudication of Mitchell’s felony burglary trial in Becker County.

Republican leaders Thursday morning described Martin’s official statement calling for Mitchell’s resignation as a “joke” and “hypocrisy.”

“This is purely a power grab,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson said in a radio interview Thursday morning on KTLK AM 1130.

“The DFL wants to make sure that a special election (for Mitchell’s seat) happens during the general election (in November),” Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, continued. “Which they think gives them a better chance of winning that seat back again.”

According to state statute, if Mitchell resigns before June 10, a special election for her District 47 seat would be placed on the November ballot. If she resigns June 10 or later, a standalone special election would be scheduled after the general election, but before the start of the 2025 legislative session.

“The way they (the DFL Senate Caucus and party) have defended her through everything …they defended her on the subcommittee on ethics hearing, we are going to make sure we hit on this over and over again,” Johnson said during an interview with conservative talk show host Jon Justice. “Now they have this whole stand on an alleged burglar that is one of their members. Hopefully Minnesotans can see in the aggregate exactly who the DFL is.”


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.