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One office at a time; Lawsuit challenges legality of lieutenant governor’s dual roles

ST. PAUL  — A Minnesota resident sued Friday to force the state’s new lieutenant governor out of the state Senate seat she aims to keep, arguing that it’s unconstitutional for longtime Republican lawmaker Michelle Fischbach to hold two offices.

Fischback was elevated to the role of lieutenant governor as part of a chain reaction after Al Franken resigned from the U.S. Senate amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton appointed his second-in-command, Tina Smith, to Franken’s seat.

As president of the state Senate, Fischbach then automatically assumed Smith’s old job. But with Republicans guarding a narrow majority in the state Senate, Fischbach made clear she did not want the lieutenant governor job and said she would keep her central Minnesota Senate seat. Democrats balked and promised to sue.

Destiny Dusosky, a constituent in Fischbach’s heavily Republican Senate district who chaired the local Democratic Party chapter last year, filed suit in Ramsey County District Court.

The lawsuit says the state constitution makes clear that someone can’t hold two offices simultaneously and asks the court to force Fischbach from the Senate seat.  It argues that Dusosky “will be deprived of representation in the Minnesota Senate due to now-lieutenant governor Fischbach’s attempt to continue to hold the office of state Senate.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka called the lawsuit “disappointing, but not surprising.”

“This disappointing lawsuit is simply political maneuvering by Democrats to try to change the outcome of the 2016 election,” Gazelka said in a statement.