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Rep. Melissa Hortman Will Be Minnesota's Next Speaker Of The House

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Minnesota Legislature is getting a new speaker of the house.

Democratic Representative Melissa Hortman will take over the job in January, becoming Minnesota's second most powerful elected official.

As Pat Kessler reports, Rep. Hortman's rise is no surprise to the people around her.

The DFL victory party was in full swing on election night. The next Minnesota house speaker took the stage, giving credit for their upset win -- to the women candidates she recruited.

Preparing to move into the role of speaker, Hortman says she's proud of the diversity of her incoming freshman class.

"We have five Hmong members, we have Native American members, we have a Hispanic member, an African American member, two Somali members, we are a full state party we are a full Democratic party," said Hortman.

Hortman gained political attention and anger in 2017 for calling out her white male colleagues for playing cards in a back room while female legislators of color gave speeches.

"And let's not just let it go anymore, let's call b---s--- when we see it," said Hortman.

More than a year later, Hortman says the incident is "water under the bridge," but she admits it was a defining moment for other people to know who she is.

"I'm the person that is totally willing to say when the emperor has no clothes, and I think we need more people in public life who are not worried about being too polite," said Hortman.

The new Democratic speaker plans to revive bills that failed in the previous Republican House: gun violence, the opioid crisis and nursing home abuse.

"We are a caucus of strong women and strong men, we are a team," said Hortman.

The new Minnesota Legislature convenes in January, which is when Hortman will take over as speaker.

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