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A second veteran legislator from Minneapolis is stepping down, further diluting the city's political power at the Capitol.
Sen. Larry Pogemiller, a DFLer from northeast Minneapolis who was active in education issues and served four years as majority leader, was appointed director of the Office of Higher Education by Gov. Mark Dayton on Friday. He will leave the Legislature Nov. 7, after more than three decades in office. In August, Sen. Linda Berglin, a DFLer from south Minneapolis, stepped down after nearly four decades in office to take a job with Hennepin County.
Pogemiller said Dayton asked him to take the job within the past few days, emphasizing the opportunity to reshape higher-education policy with new leaders at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Colleges and University System.
Pogemiller's district includes the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus and Augsburg College. The office, which administers financial aid programs and helps set higher education policy, was previously led by Sheila Wright, who resigned after less than a year in office. It is a cabinet-level position that requires confirmation by Pogemiller's colleagues in the Senate. The salary is $108,393.
Pogemiller, a legislator since 1981, served as Senate majority leader from 2005 to 2009, when Republicans took the majority for the first time in his tenure. "I loved the Senate," Pogemiller said. "I'm not leaving because I'm not in the majority. ... It's a fabulous institution."
Dayton's office said a special election to fill Pogemiller's seat will take place Jan. 10, with a primary, if needed, on Dec. 6. Rep. Diane Loeffler, a DFLer who represents the northern part of the Senate District, said she is "seriously considering" running for Pogemiller's seat, and will decide within a few days.
Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042