ST. PAUL — Minnesota Senate Deputy Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, is set to step up to fill the position of Senate Majority Leader until the GOP Caucus elects a new head, a party spokeswoman announced on Thursday, Sept. 2.

The news comes a day after former Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, announced that he would resign the post after five years. Gazelka said he is mulling a bid for governor and will make public his plans in the coming days.

Johnson could fill the interim leader position as lawmakers return to the Capitol for a special legislative session to decide how the state will allocate $250 million to front-line workers who had to quarantine without pay or became sickened with COVID-19 during the pandemic. It's not yet been determined when Gov. Tim Walz would call a special legislative session to approve the plan.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter @bydanaferguson, call 651-290-0707 or email

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