Gov. Tim Walz joined state DFL Chair Ken Martin in calling for the resignation of DFL state Sen. Nicole Mitchell on Thursday, less than two weeks after the end of the 2024 legislative session.

"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," Martin said in a statement.

In an interview before the state Board of Pardons meeting, Walz agreed with Martin. "I think that's the right decision," he said.

Through her attorney, Bruce Ringstrom Jr., Mitchell issued a statement saying she will stay in office.

"Sen. Mitchell has heard from many in her community who support her work and believe in her right to due process under the law," the statement said. "Therefore, until her criminal case is fully and finally adjudicated, Sen. Mitchell will continue to serve her constituents as the duly elected state senator from District 47."

Other prominent DFL senators defended Mitchell, including Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, who said in an interview that the first-term senator is entitled to due process on the criminal charge.

Mitchell was arrested in the early hours of April 22 at the home her stepmother shared with the senator's late father. The senator had driven from her Woodbury home and was dressed in all-black and carrying a flashlight covered with a sock. Mitchell was charged in Becker County with first-degree burglary.

She was due in court June 10 for a hearing on the case in Detroit Lakes in front of District Court Judge Gretchen Thilmony. But both her attorney and the prosecutor asked that the hearing be moved to July 1.

Mitchell, 49, returned to the Senate floor days after the arrest, but she did not engage in debates nor did she explain herself during a Senate ethics hearing on a complaint filed by the GOP. The DFL removed Mitchell from caucus meetings and took away her committee assignments after the arrest.

She remained until the last votes were cast before the midnight deadline of the 2024 legislative session on May 19. Her vote was crucial as the DFL Senate majority held just a 34-33 edge over the GOP and many bills passed along party lines.

Martin said Mitchell's "refusal to take responsibility for her actions is beneath her office and has become a distraction."

Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, issued a statement Thursday condemning Martin's timing, saying it's "a clear admission Democrats were so desperate to pass their highly partisan agenda they were willing to use votes of an alleged burglar to do it."

Johnson said the DFL "abused their political majority and embraced" Mitchell instead of working with Republicans. "Now that they no longer need her vote, they are ready to cast her aside," Johnson's statement said.

As she has in the past, Murphy emphasized that Mitchell has a right to her day in court. "She deserves due process. She has a right to due process," Murphy said, adding that the Senate Republicans had done "their level best to impair" that right.

Murphy said the Republicans were "cynical" in a persistent and extensive use of Senate floor time for motions to compel action against Mitchell. Murphy said she was so disappointed in the Republicans she's concerned about the ability of the Senate to govern in the future.

In the past when legislators faced legal problems, Murphy said legislators have waited for the resolution of criminal charges before pursuing an internal ethics complaint. During the session, the DFL position was that Mitchell should remain in office so her constituents wouldn't be disenfranchised and unrepresented by her absence.

Murphy said she knew in advance that Martin was planning to call for the resignation and that she spoke to Mitchell on Wednesday night. "It's a serious matter for her. It's a serious matter for our caucus," Murphy said, adding that Mitchell has "to consider what's best for her."

Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, who has been in the Senate since 1986, criticized Martin sharply, calling his statement disappointing. He said he hopes Mitchell doesn't resign, praising her work for veterans and on foster care issues.

Marty reiterated what he said during the session: that holding elected officials to a "higher ethical standard means treating everybody with dignity and respect."

He criticized the standard to which Mitchell's being held, noting that no one called for the resignations of DFL or GOP legislators convicted in recent years of driving under the influence of alcohol. "They were welcomed back with open arms," Marty said.

Also pending with Thilmony is a request from conservative website Alpha News seeking the immediate release of the footage from the body-worn cameras of the police officers who encountered Mitchell in the home that morning.

Thilmony conducted a hearing on that petition May 20, but has yet to rule.