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Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic to step down, citing return of cancer

Kari Dziedzic, Minnesota Senate majority leader, stepping down to continue cancer fight
Kari Dziedzic, Minnesota Senate majority leader, stepping down to continue cancer fight 01:12

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Senate Majority leader Kari Dziedzic says she plans to step down from her position before the 2024 legislation session, after learning her cancer has returned.

The DFL tapped Dziedzic to take over the leadership role after it secured a one-seat majority in the senate in the 2022 election, allowing for a "trifecta" in the senate, house and governor's office. Under her leadership during the 2023 session, legislators swiftly passed laws codifying abortion rights, securing school meals for Minnesota students, and expanding voting rights for prior felons.

Dziedzic was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in early 2023, but was still actively involved with work at the Capitol. She then underwent a hysterectomy, splenectomy and appendectomy.

In a statement on Friday, Dziedzic said that she learned her cancer returned, and is "facing some serious challenges." In the interest of the 2024 session, she said she will step down as majority leader as soon as the caucus can select a successor.

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"Thank you to the caucus and the Senate for giving me the opportunity to serve as Majority Leader," she said. "Thank you to the leadership staff who helped me do my job and make it look easy. Thank you to all senate staff who continue to step up every day to help Minnesotans."

"Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic's work put Minnesota at the forefront on gun safety, education, and reproductive freedom," said Gov. Tim Walz. "The impact of that work will be measured for decades. Her grit and passion represents the best of Minnesota. I'm incredibly grateful for her service."

House Speaker Melissa Hortman said she was "devastated" to learn about Dziedzic's cancer recurrence.

"Minnesota could not have asked for a better, more effective leader in the Minnesota Senate. Her kind, thoughtful and wise leadership brought the Senate through the most productive legislative session in 50 years. Beyond all that, she's a great friend. I'm praying for her to receive excellent health care and to return to full time legislating as soon as possible."

Dziedzic represents the northern portion of Minneapolis and is in her fifth term.

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