From the Lefthand Corner: Disappointed in our Senate majority leader over COVID-19

Don Bye - From the Lefthand Corner.jpg
Don Bye, columnist

It seemed a good day when the Minnesota Senate Republican majority replaced its previous hardline majority leader with our lakes area Sen. Paul Gazelka. As one who seldom agreed with him on controversial issues, I could easily respect him as a hard working, dedicated office holder and admire his apparent deep-seated Christian ethic.

I thought that as long as you have to have a Republican anyway, I’m glad it’s Gazelka.

I believed him when he said he would be independent, at least comparatively so.

He was also believable when he said he would strive to work together with our DFL governor and Minnesota House to reach compromise and enact legislative proposals that came before them.

Instead, he has too often aligned with the “just say no to everything” grouping harking back to the yesteryears of Pawlenty. Lately, Gazelka has gotten worse, and he’s coming off as another Trumper of lake country.


Albeit with quite different basic viewpoints, we can agree temporarily with the Becks and Limbaughs who contend that COVID-19 presents our new World War III.

It is shameful that our too complacent society has allowed this most serious pervasive plague, that threatens all of us, to become a partisan battlefield.

Initially Gazelka questioned, but mostly refrained from confrontative political attacking of our DFL Gov. Tim Walz’s efforts, and professed a united front in dealing with the virus.

Then came an April 10 Republican blast at Gov. Walz’s extension of the shelter at home order to May 4. State media noted the shift in tone for our senator.

Ever since, Gazelka appears to be undercutting and second-guessing our governor. Coming from the trenches, one Minnesota Dr. Stanley Woolner spoke out against Gazelka in a letter published in the StarTribune, concluding that, “Gazelka’s comments are highly irresponsible."

He chided Gazelka and others to “ better educate yourselves regarding coronavirus before making public pronouncements that put people’s lives at risk." Woolner noted that, “the epidemic should not be construed as a Democratic or Republican issue; it is a public health issue."

He went on to commend our outstanding state leadership that has resulted in Minnesota’s lowest number of COVID-19 cases in the nation to date.

Gazelka is now loudly criticizing the governor’s stay at home order and any extension thereof beyond May 4. He does this without stating one date that he would set, nor one single business that he would open, or one that he would keep closed.


Gazelka blithely claims that, “We are ready for the surge now."

To the contrary, medical experts tell us that three times existing capacity for testing needs to be in progress before our shutdowns can be relaxed with any assurance of safety.

Gazelka wants to open business at each owner’s discretion. This is while today’s media speaks of the crucial need for triple testing nationwide first, describes cluster breakouts in Minnesota and sounds the alarm that our Minnesota death toll is still increasing at a staggering rate.

For the past several weeks, Sen. Gazelka has shown a pattern of placing business dollars and interests over the very real risk to the lives of the people he represents.

That is very disappointing.

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