Former Minnesota House Speaker Rod Searle dies at 93

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  • January 6, 2014 - 10:58 AM

Former Minnesota House Speaker Rod Searle, a Republican who led the House when it was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, died at home Sunday.

He was 93.

"Searle died at his farm, where he had been receiving hospice care, with his wife Ruth and his daughter Linda at his side," according to the Mankato Free Press.

Searle, who had been an assistant minority leader, become speaker when the two parties were forced to share power because both won 67 seats in the 1978 election.

"Lengthy negotiations between the two parties resulted in the adoption of temporary rules for the first session of the 71st Legislature. Searle served as Speaker of the House under those rules while Irv Anderson chaired the Committee on Rules and Legislative Administration," according to the Minnesota Historical Society.

Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, remembered Searle as "a principled leader, a dedicated public servant, and a true gentleman. He was elected Speaker of the House in 1979, because he held the respect and trust of both Republican and DFL members in that deadlocked chamber."

Searle, who led the Minnesota State University Board and the Minnesota Higher Education Board after he left the Legislature in 1980, was among the Republicans who backed Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner in 2010. As a result, he and other longtime Republicans were called "quislings" by the then-Republican Party chair and temporarily banned from certain party activities.

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