Michelle Fischbach Article

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Michelle Fischbach
Senate President Michelle Fischbach (cropped).jpg
49th Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota
In office
January 2, 2018 – January 7, 2019 [a]
Governor Mark Dayton
Preceded by Tina Smith
Succeeded by Peggy Flanagan
10th and 12th President of the Minnesota Senate
In office
January 3, 2017 – May 25, 2018
Preceded by Sandy Pappas
Succeeded by Warren Limmer (Acting)
In office
January 4, 2011 – January 7, 2013
Preceded by Jim Metzen
Succeeded by Sandy Pappas
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 13th district
14th (1996–2013)
In office
February 12, 1996 – May 25, 2018
Preceded by Joe Bertram
Succeeded by Jeff Howe
Personal details
Born (1965-11-03) November 3, 1965 (age 53)
Woodbury, Minnesota, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)Scott Fischbach
Education College of St. Benedict
St. Cloud State University ( BA)
William Mitchell College of Law ( JD)

Michelle L. Fischbach (born November 3, 1965) is an American politician who served as the 49th lieutenant governor of Minnesota, from 2018 to 2019. She previously served as president of the Minnesota Senate. A Republican, she was first elected to the State Senate in 1996, where she represented portions of Benton County and Stearns County. In January 2018, as President of the Senate, Fischbach became Lieutenant Governor following the resignation of Tina Smith. She was succeeded as Lieutenant Governor by Peggy Flanagan on January 7, 2019.

Early life, education, and career

Fischbach grew up in Woodbury, Minnesota. After graduating from Woodbury High School, she attended the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph from 1984 to 1986 and, later, St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, where she received a B.A. in political science and economics in 1989. She was the first woman elected to the Paynesville City Council, serving from 1995 to 1996. [1] [2] In 2011, Fischbach graduated with a J.D. from William Mitchell School of Law in Saint Paul. [3]

Minnesota Senate

Fischbach in 2006

Fischbach was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1996. She was elected in a special election held after the resignation of DFL Senator Joe Bertram, who had recently pled guilty to shoplifting. [1] Fischbach was reelected months later in the 1996 general election, as well as in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2012, and 2016. [4] She served as an assistant minority leader from 2001 to 2002 and from 2007 to 2008, and as a Deputy Minority Leader from 2009 to 2010. [2] Fischbach also served as the chair of the Senate's Higher Education Committee. [2]

In 2011, following an election where Senate Republicans won a majority for the first time since party designation, Fischbach was elected by her colleagues to serve as the state's first female President of the Senate, holding the post from January 2011 through January 2013. [5] After the Republicans regained a majority following the 2016 election, Fischbach was again elected to be president of the Senate on January 3, 2017. [6]

Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota (2018–2019)


Fischbach became the 49th Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota in January 2018 when Tina Smith resigned to accept an appointment to the United States Senate. [b] Smith was appointed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to replace Al Franken, who resigned the seat over allegations of sexual harassment. [8] Fischbach acknowledged having ascended to the role, but maintained she would remain in the Senate and referred to herself as "acting" lieutenant governor. [9]

Constitutional dispute

Fischbach said she intended to serve as lieutenant governor while retaining her senate seat, but her legal ability to do so was questioned. [10] [11] Fischbach noted a memo from the senate's nonpartisan counsel, which cited an 1898 Minnesota Supreme Court decision, as legal precedent for her to serve in both offices. [12] In an interview, she asserted the lieutenant governor's duties are largely ceremonial and she would have no problem fulfilling the roles of both offices. [13] She declined the lieutenant governor's salary, opting to receive only the pay of a state senator. [14]

An advisory opinion issued by the state's attorney general disputed Fischbach's legal ability to serve in both offices at once, citing a 1972 constitutional amendment and historical precedents, such as Alec G. Olson's resignation from the state senate upon becoming lieutenant governor in 1976. [15] (The Minnesota Constitution specifies "No senator or representative shall hold any other office under the authority of the United States or the state of Minnesota, except that of postmaster or of notary public.") [16]

The eventual outcome was widely seen as having potentially significant ramifications on Minnesota politics, as Republicans held only a two-vote majority in the state senate at the time. [17] In December, to avoid a potential tie should Fischbach be forced to resign her senate seat, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and House Speaker Kurt Daudt sent a letter to Governor Dayton requesting a special legislative session to elect a Democratic president of the senate. Dayton and legislative Democrats immediately rejected the idea. [17] [18]

Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk said he would likely file a lawsuit to attempt to force Fischbach out of the senate should she attempt to serve in both offices, saying the senate's "balance of power [...] will be up for grabs." [19] [20] [21] Fischbach said she would run for reelection to the senate if forced to resign. [22]

In January 2018, a constituent and local Democratic Party activist filed a lawsuit against Fischbach, asking a Ramsey County District Court judge to remove her from the state senate. [23] In February, a Ramsey County District Court judge dismissed the suit due to it being filed too early, not on the merits of the case. [24]

Fischbach ended the dispute over whether she could hold both offices simultaneously by resigning from the Senate on May 25, 2018 and being sworn in as lieutenant governor. [25] The lawsuits, which her resignation rendered moot, cost Minnesota taxpayers over $146,000. [26]

Lieutenant Governor election campaign

In May 2018, Fischbach joined the campaign of Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor running in the 2018 election to return to the governor's office, as the candidate for lieutenant governor on his ticket. [27] Pawlenty was defeated in the Republican primary by Jeff Johnson. [28] Fischbach was succeeded as Lieutenant Governor by Peggy Flanagan, running mate of Democrat Tim Walz who became Governor on January 7, 2019. [29]

Personal life

Fischbach is Roman Catholic. [2] She met her husband, Scott, while working on a campaign for former U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz. The two started dating while she was attending St. Cloud State University. They eventually moved to Paynesville where they still live. [13] Fischbach's husband has served as executive director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life since 2001. [30] The couple has two grown children and several grandchildren. [31]

See also


  1. ^ Took oath of office on May 25, 2018.
  2. ^ The Minnesota Constitution provides "The last elected presiding officer of the senate shall become lieutenant governor in case a vacancy occurs in that office." [7]


  1. ^ a b Bierschbach, Briana (December 20, 2017). "'I never asked for it': Meet the lawmaker in the middle of Minnesota's lieutenant governor mess". MinnPost. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "Fischbach, Michelle L". Minnesota Legislative Reference Library. Minnesota Legislature.
  3. ^ "Elected and Appointed Officials in Minnesota – Mitchell Hamline Alumni – Mitchell Hamline School of Law". mitchellhamline.edu. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  4. ^ Sommerhauser, Mark (November 7, 2012). "Fischbach re-elected to 7th term in Senate 13". St. Cloud Times. Archived from the original on December 4, 2012.
  5. ^ Pugmire, Tim (November 22, 2010). "Abortion opponent promises to stick to job description in new gig as Senate president". Minnesota Public Radio News. St. Paul, Minnesota. Republican Sen. Michelle Fischbach of Paynesville will be the first woman in state history to preside as president of the Senate.
  6. ^ Pugmire, Tim (November 10, 2016). "Gazelka picked as new GOP state Senate leader". Minnesota Public Radio News. St. Paul, Minnesota. Senate Republicans also announced the selection of Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, as Senate president.
  7. ^ "Minnesota Constitution, Article V, § 5 (Succession to offices of governor and lieutenant governor.)". Office of the Revisor of Statutes. Minnesota Legislature.
  8. ^ Bakst, Brian; Pugmire, Tim (December 13, 2017). "Smith to take Franken's Senate seat, run in 2018". Minnesota Public Radio. Minnesota's succession plan calls for the state Senate president to become Lieutenant Governor, so as Smith moves to the U.S. Senate, state Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, will move into Smith's position.
  9. ^ Orrick, Dave (January 3, 2018). "State Sen. Fischbach calling herself 'acting' lieutenant governor, declines salary". St. Paul Pioneer Press. St. Paul, Minnesota. Fischbach hedged her new title, calling herself "acting lieutenant governor" — a phrase that does not appear anywhere in the Minnesota Constitution.
  10. ^ Pugmire, Tim (December 13, 2017). "Can she do that? New MN lieutenant gov. wants to keep Senate seat, too". Minnesota Public Radio News. St. Paul, Minnesota.
  11. ^ "Unclear if Fischbach can keep Senate seat as Lt. Governor". KMSP-TV. Eden Prairie, Minnesota. December 13, 2017.
  12. ^ Orrick, Dave (December 15, 2017). "8 fun facts about the 1898 Supreme Court case that could decide the balance of power in the Minnesota Senate". St. Paul Pioneer Press. St. Paul, Minnesota.
  13. ^ a b Van Berkel, Jessie (January 2, 2018). "Republican Fischbach prepares for unusual partnership as Gov. Dayton's lieutenant". Star Tribune. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  14. ^ Coolican, J. Patrick (January 4, 2018). "Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach will decline pay, continue in Minn. Senate; lawsuit likely". Star Tribune. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
  15. ^ Bakst, Brian (December 21, 2017). "Can lieutenant gov. keep Senate seat? AG's view sets stage for suit". Minnesota Public Radio News. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  16. ^ "Minnesota Constitution Art. IV, § 5 (Restriction on holding office.)". Office of the Revisor of Statutes. Minnesota Legislature.
  17. ^ a b Potter, Kyle (January 1, 2018). "As Smith heads to DC, questions linger over her replacement". Minnesota Public Radio News. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  18. ^ Raghavendran, Beena (December 22, 2017). "Minnesota GOP legislative leaders call for special session". Star Tribune. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  19. ^ Potter, Kyle (December 28, 2017). "Senate's top Democrat rules out special session on lieutenant governor". St. Paul Pioneer Press. St. Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  20. ^ Orrick, Dave (December 21, 2017). "GOP Senate leader can't be lieutenant governor, too, MN attorney general says". St. Paul Pioneer Press. St. Paul, Minnesota.
  21. ^ Bierschbach, Briana (December 13, 2017). "The constitutional mess created by Tina Smith's appointment". MinnPost. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  22. ^ Bakst, Brian (December 28, 2017). "No special session over lieutenant governor swap". Capitol View. Minnesota Public Radio News. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  23. ^ Orrick, Dave (January 12, 2018). "Lawsuit asks judge to kick Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach out of her MN Senate seat". St. Paul Pioneer Press. St. Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  24. ^ Van Berkel, Jessie (February 12, 2018). "Ramsey County judge dismisses lawsuit against Fischbach over Senate seat, but fight likely not over". Star Tribune. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  25. ^ Golden, Erin; Coolican, J. Patrick (May 25, 2018). "Fischbach resigns from state Senate, is sworn in as lieutenant governor". Star Tribune. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  26. ^ Featherly, Kevin (December 17, 2018). "Fischbach lawyer: It could've been worse". Minnesota Lawyer. Minneapolis. It will cost taxpayers more than $146,000 to defend former Senate President Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, against a lawsuit that aimed to unseat her.
  27. ^ Coolican, J. Patrick (2018-05-31). "Tim Pawlenty picks Michelle Fischbach as running mate". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  28. ^ Bierschbach, Briana; Bakst, Brian (August 14, 2018). "Walz and Johnson win Minnesota governor primary, will face off in November". Minnesota Public Radio.
  29. ^ Frost, Evan; Staff, MPR News. "Photos: The Walz Administration takes oath of office". www.mprnews.org. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  30. ^ Jacobson, Michael (June 13, 2001). "Scott Fischbach to head MCCL". Paynesville Press. Paynesville, Minnesota. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  31. ^ "Project Vote Smart – Senator Michelle L. Fischbach – Biography". Votesmart.org. Retrieved September 14, 2011.

External links

Minnesota Senate
Preceded by
Joe Bertram
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 13th district
14th (1996–2013)

Succeeded by
Jeff Howe
Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Metzen
President of the Minnesota Senate
Succeeded by
Sandy Pappas
Preceded by
Sandy Pappas
President of the Minnesota Senate
Succeeded by
Warren Limmer
Preceded by
Tina Smith
Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota
Succeeded by
Peggy Flanagan