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Amy Koch reviews her ‘bad year,’ hits back at GOP critics

MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen
“[Minnesota] Republicans are a Blockbuster Video in a Hulu world,” said former GOP Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch.

It’s been a bad year for former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, capped by a particularly bad week.

On Wednesday, Michael Brodkorb, the staff member with whom she had the relationship that cost her the leadership post, was involved in a serious car accident.

Brodkorb’s condition has improved, and he’s been communicating with friends and families via text messages. Koch declined to comment on the current status of their relationship.

But, the accident will strengthen the blame game for Republicans who want to trace the source of their recent problems to the Brodkorb-Koch affair.    

Koch, in an interview Friday, was in a mood to fight back, clear the air and vent frustrations about her party’s ineffectiveness.

“[Minnesota] Republicans are a Blockbuster Video in a Hulu world,” she said.

“Our business model is outdated. How you’re delivering it needs to be fundamentally changed. The DFL is ahead on data [and] social media,” she said. “And yet, [Republicans] we’re ready to point the fingers at everybody and say, ‘This is where it all fell apart.’ ”

Republicans, Koch said, still have a path to relevance both during the legislative session and the 2014 elections.

 “There are so many talented people,” she said. “Everybody has faults, nobody’s perfect, me least of all, but find what they’re good at and build people up.”

Koch maintains that even though Republicans are in the legislative minority, they can still be players in the budget process.

 “We are fundamentally a fiscally common-sense state,” she said, so Republicans should offer an alternative budget and focus on spending and tax reforms.

She had specific recommendations: “Take away the sales tax on capital investment and pay for it by cutting programs like JobZ [a program initiated by then Gov. Tim Pawlenty that offers tax relief to specific industries and regions].”

Republicans have an opening to challenge Governor Dayton’s budget proposal, Koch said, because “I think it will be a hard sell.  It’s too broad.”

As once-powerful people often do, she reflected on the glory days of her caucus, after the 2010 elections, when Republicans took control of the Senate and the House.

 “It wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t a fluke what happened in 2010,” she said. “We were a team, if we can find a way to get back to that.”

Koch agrees with the view that her status as the first woman to serve as Senate majority leader influenced the way the Republican caucus handled her resignation.

 “There was a gender component,” she said.

On Dec. 16, 2011, the day after Koch announced in a statement that she was stepping aside as majority leader, four male senators staged a news event at which they proclaimed surprise and shock at learning of the Koch-Brodkorb relationship. Many women legislators say reaction to the resignation would have been different had the leader in question been a man.

For the time being, Koch has ruled out running for office again. Divorced, she has bought and manages a bowling alley in Maple Lake near Buffalo.

 “I don’t bowl,” she said with a chuckle. “But I really like the people I have working for me.”

And she’s a hands-on manager. She was at work when the 10 o’clock news was airing reports of Brodkorb’s accident. Her patrons, she said, gave her a sympathetic nod, as if to say, “This, too, shall pass.”

Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 01/25/2013 - 02:35 pm.

    Probably not your best comment, given your recent history:

    “I don’t bowl,” she said with a chuckle. “But I really like the people I have working for me.”

  2. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 01/25/2013 - 03:03 pm.

    Good for Ms. Koch

    She has honest work and is not moping around feeling sorry for herself like some other ex-pols around these parts.

    As Voltaire put it in Candide: “We must cultivate our gardens.”

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 01/27/2013 - 04:50 pm.

      She shouldn’t feel sorry for herself..

      …because her situation is of her own making. As for cultivating gardens one should stay in one’s own “garden” and leave the “gardens” of others alone.

  3. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 01/25/2013 - 03:51 pm.

    ‘Yes, there will be growth in the Spring….”

    “…As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden”, Chance Gardiner, “Being There”

    • Submitted by Terry McDanel on 01/26/2013 - 04:19 pm.

      Stewarding the garden

      The best way to garden is to put on a wide-brimmed straw hat
      and some old clothes. And with a hoe in one hand and a cold
      drink in the other, tell somebody else where to dig.

  4. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 01/25/2013 - 04:18 pm.

    We will see

    If it was a fluke. I would prefer “a broad budget” proposal; far better to discuss important economic issues at the legislature than bogus constitutional amendments and how to pay legal fees for sex scandals.

  5. Submitted by on 01/26/2013 - 09:01 am.

    2010 – The Parents are gone

    When the GOP won in 2010 it was like teenagers whose parents just went on vacation and left them at home with promises to act responsibly. As soon as mom and dad were gone they got on the phone and called all their friends and the party started. When mom and dad got home and saw the wreck the kids made of the house they punished the kids and vowed to never leave them at home again.

    Amy can pine for the good old days of 2010 but after the debacle of the GOP majority, it ain’t ever gonna happen again. It was two years of slapstick buffoonery on every front and those days are past. Gutterball!

    • Submitted by David Mensing on 01/31/2013 - 10:06 pm.

      The GOP will come back

      I don’t vote for many Republicans, but I am sure that the GOP will find their sea legs, eventually.
      The middle and the independent voters will become disenchanted with Democrats at some point and if Republicans represent a viable alternative, they will make gains in Minnesota.

  6. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 01/26/2013 - 09:38 am.

    Nothing But Bad Choices

    Talk about bad choices. She led her party through two fruitless years of Republicans pet social engineering projects when she should have led them through issues that would have created jobs and helped with budget/deficit issues that would have benefited all Minnesotans. Things would have gone a lot better for her if the word “Compromise” hadn’t left her dictionary. She complains about her party’s ineffectiveness, I guess she feels she was effective when she was the so called leader. She chose sexual escapades with her buddy Brodkorb that is still costing Minnesota money. Only now she recognizes the Republican business model is outdated. It is a little late in the game to recognize what has been clear to voters for a long time. She correctly says Minnesota is a common sense state. That is why the Republicans were voted out as the party to lead Minnesota. The bowling alley seems like a good fit. Choosing not to run again is a good choice. She is definitely not leadership material in the broadly accepted definition of leadership.

  7. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 01/26/2013 - 03:10 pm.


    She castigates the GOP leadership for being in the past. When she was in the leadership, did she do anything to set a new course? Or did she just follow the crowd, in this case right over the cliff? From what I saw, Senator Koch catered to the base interests of the party and didn’t consider what was best for the state. But if you think government is always the problem and can’t do anything right that’s what you get.

  8. Submitted by Tim Brausen on 01/26/2013 - 04:42 pm.

    the Arrogance of Power

    Ms. Koch was a terrible legislative leader, as her actions regularly displayed contempt for the citizens; unless you were powerful leader AND a Republican, Ms. Koch would not meet with you nor deign to hear from you during her brief tenure as Majority Leader. I know she regularly refused to meet with clergy and faith leaders on issues that mattered to the people of the state, education, transportation, health care and racial equity.

    She and her “team” were singularly devoted to the Republican agenda for the session, frustrating Governor Dayton, and the attendant social legislation end-run around him, an agenda not supported by the majority in this state, regardless of their teamwork. She still doesn’t appear to know how misguided the Republican agenda was for those two years, despite the promise of the “laser like focus on jobs.”

    Good luck to her in her new career as a manager. I would recommend she learn to bowl too. She should find it more rewarding than her leadership days, if every bit as challenging.

  9. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 01/26/2013 - 06:23 pm.

    The GOP Leaders like Hann and Daudt are out of touch with reality. I am 69 years old and just had a nice talk talk with our young Senator Brandon Peterson in our district. It appears to me he is the future of the GOP. That is if nobody like Hann try and hold him back. His ideas that he relayed to me where a breath of fresh air and we need more youngsters like him to breath new life into the GOP. The problem is I am afraid the people like Hann, Zellers and the ilk won’t listen to anybody and that will be the end of the GOP.

  10. Submitted by Jeffrey Swainhart on 01/27/2013 - 07:12 am.


    Pressing for the Marriage Amendment while banging a married coworker on the side. Conservatives love to call out moral relativism on everyone but themselves. I’ll bet she’s a good bowling alley manager.

  11. Submitted by mark wallek on 01/27/2013 - 09:39 am.

    No well wishing

    It’s difficult to have compassion for someone who has spoken one way and acted in an entirely different manner. Hypocritical is the term I believe. Kock can serve now by going away. Her “contribution” is of the sort we cannot afford and do not want. There are still far too many of her ilk in government.

  12. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 01/27/2013 - 06:22 pm.

    Hann should pay

    I think those involved involved plot like Hann should pay the bill out of there own pocket. Taxpayers should have to pay for a coup d’etat, that a bunch of dirtballs like Hann came up with.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/28/2013 - 09:09 am.

    I don’t wish her ill but…

    She a bad year, Minnesota had 10 bad years in the hands of intolerant intellectual frauds and hypocrites like Koch. And she still doesn’t get it. They didn’t lose because they don’t use computers, they lost because they sucked at running the government. And still, all they have to offer is magic tax and spending cuts. When will these guys realize there’s no such thing as magic? They keep claiming they’re gonna focus on the budget as if they have some expertise there. They don’t have a clue, it’s like asking a dog to practice the violin. It’s very bizarre, the expect to win elections without having to give anyone anything to vote for.

    • Submitted by David Mensing on 01/31/2013 - 10:21 pm.

      Not a victim

      While Koch appears to have been betrayed by her associates, she isn’t a victim and she shouldn’t infer this in any of her comments. Politics can become a bare-knuckle brawl and weaknesses will be exposed. Whatever Koch’s personal preferences were in policy, she allowed her members to pursue policies that didn’t gibe with people’s priorities.

      I don’t hold her personal foibles against her, but the hypocrisy is pretty apparent. Ms. Koch had an opportunity and failed. I doubt she will get another chance.

  14. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 01/28/2013 - 09:11 am.

    K-woman’s story is investigativ journalism…aaah!

    Nothing like the big picture, Minnesota investigative style?

    Nothing more than a dead-end, speculative piece; tabloid rerun that contributes little, to top the weekend headlines here…wow.

    Must be a few political ‘experts’ around who could do a back-to-back debate on Mali and US involvement; responsibility, accountability…historical timeline etc, and will it become our next Vietnam?

  15. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/28/2013 - 10:03 am.

    “Bad year”

    I don’t want to be too harsh in criticizing Ms. Koch. Lots of people, including some I know personally, have made similar mistakes, with similar unpleasant, often career-ending, consequences. Perfection is not a human trait, and among the relevant responses is, I think, “I can forgive, but I won’t forget.”

    That line seems appropriate because I do think Ms. Koch has forfeited her opportunity as a GOP party leader. I also think she has missed the point of the resounding defeat suffered by Republicans at just about every level in 2012. Not for a minute do I believe Republicans are somehow unsophisticated boobs when it comes to the technological. That they were perhaps outdone at the national level by the Obama campaign doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all still using rotary-dial telephones and have never heard of a debit card.

    It’s not the delivery that Republicans need to change, it’s the message. Their fellow-citizens and voters have figured out that the basic message of the recent Republican Party is hostile to the majority of the population, whether on economic, social or purely political grounds. Some – probably not all – of the fundamental beliefs of the party have to change if they expect to gain a majority and keep it for any length of time. Routinely characterizing one’s political opponents as fiscally-irresponsible Satan-worshipers is counterproductive if the goal is political influence.

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