Pogemiller leaving Senate power legacy to join Dayton team as higher-ed director

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.

Sen. Larry Pogemiller
Sen. Larry Pogemiller

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.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 10/28/2011 - 01:17 pm.

    What would be a news story is if a DFL politician left the legislature to start a business or work in the private sector.

  2. Submitted by Jim Bernstein on 10/28/2011 - 02:38 pm.

    Working in the public sector is as valuble as working in the private sector, often for less money and opportunity. Both Sen. Berglin and Sen. Pogemiller have both the expertise and interest in helping to shape and guide policy in their respective fields. Choosing to pursue opportunity in the public sector is as laudable as doing it in the private sector.

  3. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 10/28/2011 - 03:33 pm.

    When I consider the lack of knowledge of how the state works, in the persons of some GOP self-declared one-termers in the Legislature who just wanted to throw their cut-cut-cut tomatoes and run, I am deeply saddened by Larry Pogemiller and Linda Berglin leaving office.

    And, I don’t know if Pogemiller made a point of speaking to the press about it, but he certainly made his policy disagreements with the know-nothings available in conversations with his Minneapolis constituents (I’m one).

    The governor does have a knack for appointing excellent people, and Pogemiller understands thoroughly how our higher education system functions, and the damage the GOP cuts have done to it. This is the up-side of this bit of news.

  4. Submitted by Tony George on 10/28/2011 - 03:38 pm.

    Good move to leave the Koch-infested Minnesota legislature.

  5. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 10/30/2011 - 10:58 am.

    Dennis, I hear former Governor Pawlenty has finally secured gainful employment after his nearly two decades on the state government payroll. Mr. Pawlenty will be serving “part-time” on several corporate boards. I wonder what skill sets he will bring to his “private sector” job? Political access?

  6. Submitted by Rod Loper on 10/31/2011 - 09:03 am.

    The republican leaders of the senate and house
    higher education committees have made a tour
    (victory lap?) of state colleges to see how the cuts they made are being implemented. I hope
    Larry can help steel Dayton’s spine to reduce the damage.

  7. Submitted by Ron Lietz on 10/31/2011 - 09:20 am.

    I am extremely happy that he is leaving. Thank God and Greyhound. He did absolutely nothing as DFL Majority Leaders except allow Tim Pawlenty to ride herd on the Minnesota State Senate, and do as he (Pawlenty) damn well pleased. He was a failure. I weep for the Minnesota Educational System—He is a total looser.

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