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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published December 15 2011

UPDATED: Majority leader of Minnesota Senate, rising GOP star, resigns in suprise move

ST. PAUL - Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch is resigning from her leadership post and will not seek re-election to the Senate.

There was no immediate hint as to why she left or when a replacement would be named.

Koch often has been mentioned as a possible replacement for U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann or as a governor candidate in 2014.

In a letter released late this afternoon, the Buffalo Republican gave no reason for her decision, which was not telegraphed to many in advance.

“After thoughtful conversations with my family and friends, I am announcing today that I am not seeking re-election in Senate District 19 and therefore am resigning as majority leader of the Minnesota state Senate,” her letter began.

In interviews earlier in the day on other subjects, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel of Edina and House Speaker Kurt Zellers of Maple Grove gave no indication Koch would depart. Zellers praised Koch’s work over the past year.

The announcement came nearly a year after Republicans took control of the Senate for the first time in 38 years and elected Koch the first woman majority leader of the body.

Koch and Zellers were chief negotiators for the Republican-controlled Legislature with Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. Zellers and Koch were together constantly during budget negotiations to work out major differences with Dayton.

Zellers said he and Koch were like brother and sister.

In her letter, Koch called 2011 “challenging, exciting and exhausting.”

“I feel our majority accomplished many of our first-year goals,” she wrote. “Minnesota is in a stronger position today because of the steps Republicans took in the Legislature to reform government and put our economy back on course.”

People from both political parties thanked Koch for her service.

“I personally regret Sen. Koch’s decision to step down as majority leader of the Minnesota Senate and not to seek re-election,” Dayton said. “I have developed great respect for her during the past year of working together. She has been an excellent leader of her caucus and, while we often disagree, a strong advocate for her beliefs.”

Added interim Republican Party Chairwoman Kelly Fenton: “Sen. Koch has helped lead our state during these difficult economic times, and her policies have helped bring about a projected surplus in Minnesota. She has fought hard for Minnesota families and small businesses, and has put our state in a great position as we head into the new year.”

GOP National Committeewoman Pat Anderson tweeted that Koch “was one of the best leaders we have had in a long time.”