Sen. Jeremy Miller was elected leader of the Senate Republicans at a caucus meeting late Wednesday night after Sen. Paul Gazelka stepped down to run for governor.
Miller’s predecessor frequently butted heads with Gov. Tim Walz over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Miller has pledged to bring a more “respectful” tone to the Capitol.
“One of my biggest frustrations is how negative the political divide and how divisive the political divide has gotten. It seems to have gotten worse every year that I’ve been here and I don’t think it has to be that way. There can certainly be disagreements on issues. There are going to be disagreements on issues. That’s the way democracy works but I feel that we can work through those disagreements in a respectful manner,” Miller said during a press conference Thursday.
His relationship with the governor and House Democrats could face an immediate test as some Republicans would like to remove Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm at an upcoming special session.
Miller said he won’t make any commitments about Malcolm’s future until he has an opportunity to speak with the governor.
Miller was first elected to the Senate in 2010. He has been president of the Senate since 2019 and was the youngest person to hold that position.
“Those of you who know me know that I’m more of a behind the scenes kind of guy and have not done many press conferences,” Miller said Wednesday.
He lives in Winona with his wife, Janel, and their three sons and works as the chief financial officer for a family-owned scrap metal company.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader John Jasinski, who was rumored to be a potential candidate for the majority leader job, congratulated Miller.
“I’ve had the honor of working closely with Sen. Miller for the last four-plus years. In that time he has been a fantastic mentor, colleague, and friend,” he said. “He is a bridge-builder who has constantly exhibited strong leadership and even stronger values. I am certain he will make an exceptional majority leader, and I am excited to work with him to make Minnesota even better.”