Updated May 30, 2024 - News

Minnesota DFL chair, governor call for Sen. Nicole Mitchell's resignation

News crews filled the Senate gallery to capture Mitchell on the floor. Photo: Torey Van Oot/Axios

News crews filled the Senate gallery to capture Mitchell's return to the floor in April. Photo: Torey Van Oot/Axios

Two top Minnesota Democrats are calling on state Sen. Nicole Mitchell to resign, but Mitchell says she doesn't plan to do so.

Why it matters: DFL Party Chair Ken Martin and Gov. Tim Walz are the most prominent DFL leaders to publicly pressure the Woodbury Democrat to step down over her felony burglary charge.

  • Their statements came over a week after the session adjourned.
  • Resigning now would allow a special election for Mitchell's suburban seat to align with the November election.

Catch up fast: Mitchell was arrested in late April after police, responding to an early morning break-in call, found her in the basement of her stepmother's Detroit Lakes home.

  • Prosecutors say she was trying to retrieve ashes and other items she said belonged to her late father. Mitchell has denied that she was stealing.

State of play: Republicans began calling for Mitchell's resignation shortly after news broke of her arrest. They filed an ethics complaint and pushed for her expulsion from the Legislature.

  • Senate Democrats argued she was entitled to due process and that her constituents deserved representation.
  • She continued casting pivotal votes in the 34-33 Senate through the end of the session.

What he's saying: "While Sen. [Nicole] Mitchell is entitled to her day in court, her continued refusal to take responsibility for her actions is beneath her office and has become a distraction for her district and the Legislature," Martin said Thursday morning.

  • "Now that her constituents have had full representation through the end of the legislative session, it is time for her to resign to focus on the personal and legal challenges she faces."
  • A spokesperson for Walz told Axios later on Thursday that the governor agrees with Martin, saying he thinks it "would be best for Senator Mitchell to resign to focus on personal matters."

The other side: Mitchell's attorney said in a statement she "does not intend to resign at this time."

  • She "has heard from many in her community who support her work and believe in her right to due process under the law," the statement reads.
  • "Therefore, until her criminal case is fully and finally adjudicated, Sen. Mitchell will continue to serve her constituents."

Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) told Axios that she stands by Mitchell's right to due process.

  • "I'm not calling on her to personally resign, but I want her to think about what her responsibility is to the people who sent her in and our responsibility to govern together," Murphy said.

Republicans, meanwhile, took issue with the timing of Martin's statement just after the session.

  • Senate Republican Leader Mark Johnson called it a "clear admission Democrats were so desperate to pass their highly partisan agenda they were willing to use votes of an alleged burglar to do it."

Editor's note: This developing story was updated with additional details throughout, including statements from Mitchell, Walz, Murphy and Johnson.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Twin Cities.

More Twin Cities stories