Larry Pogemiller’s run as one of the Minnesota Senate’s most powerful, confounding, brillant and, finally, silent senators is over.
Pogemiller today was appointed director of the state’s Office of Higher Education by Gov. Mark Dayton.
Dayton, in making the appointment, said Pogemiller is “one of the smartest, most talented and most dedicated’’ public servants around.
Many of both parties would agree with those comments. But many, of both parties, would have added such descriptors as “most manipulative and most scheming’’ as well.
The simple reality is that in a political career that began when he was elected to the House in 1980, Pogemiller won friends and earned enemies. But his understanding of the Senate (he was elected to that body in 1982) was total and respected by all.
The move out of the state Senate also makes a great deal of sense, given Pogemiller’s big fall from power falling the elections of 2010.
Prior to the elections, Pogemiller had been the powerful DFL Senate majority leader. In the wake of the elections, when the DFL lost majority status, Pogemiller lost all power.
He made no effort to become minority leader in the Senate, which was wise, given the reality that he would have had little chance of winning support in his own caucus. Instead, Pogemiller moved from being the hand that guided/manipulated the state Senate to a back-bencher who had little to say about policy or his party’s fall from power.
The big question now would seem to be how effectively Pogemiller can fit into the governor’s administration. Can the politician who used to be the manager now be a team player in a relatively obscure office?
Pogemiller is the second hugely prominent DFL pol from Minneapolis to leave the Legislature. In August, longtime Senate powerhouse Linda Berglin left to accept a position as a health policy manager for Hennepin County.