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Presiding Officers of the Senate who became Lieutenant Governor

Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

The Minnesota Constitution, Article IV, Section 5 states, “The last elected presiding officer of the senate shall become lieutenant governor in case a vacancy occurs in that office.”  This has occurred at least ten times in state history. Supporting documents are noted below. Please report any errors to library staff. 

See also President and President Pro Tempore of the Minnesota Senate, 1849-present and Minnesota Lieutenant Governors, 1858-present.

Presiding officer who was elevated to the position of lieutenant governor Who was replaced? Term of office as lieutenant governor Circumstances In what part of the Senate term did the change occur?  Did s/he return to Senate seat? Run in a special election? Evidence of an oath of office for lieutenant governorship? Evidence of a resignation from the Senate? Did the legislature meet in session during the lieutenant governor term? If the legislature met, did individual cast votes as a senator? Other
90th Legislature (2017-2018) Michelle L. Fischbach (R) Tina Smith (DFL) 1/3/2018 to Lt. Governor Tina Smith resigned  at 11:59 p.m. on January 2, 2018 to become a United States senator, appointed by Governor Mark Dayton, upon the resignation of Senator Al Franken. As the last elected presiding officer of the Senate, Senator Fischbach ascended to the position of lieutenant governor. She resigned from the Senate on May 25, 2018 and took the oath of office for lieutenant governor the same day.  She resigned on 5/25/2018. Her term would have expired on 1/5/2021.

She said she would not run in a special election for her seat.
Yes, on 5/25/2018. Yes, on 5/25/2018. Yes. She ascended to the position of lieutenant governor on 1/3/2018. The legislature met in session from 2/20/2018 to 5/20/2018. Yes, she voted as a member of the senate throughout the session.
69th Legislature (1975-1976) Alec G. Olson (DFL) Rudy Perpich (DFL) 12/29/1976 to 1/4/1979     Senator Alec Olson became lieutenant governor after Rudy Perpich became governor when Wendell Anderson resigned the governorship to become a United States senator. The United States senate seat opened when Walter Mondale resigned to take office as Vice President. Sen. Olson resigned from the Minnesota Legislature on December 29, 1976 and became Minnesota's lieutenant governor on the same day.  He resigned near the end of his term, which would have ended on 1/3/1977.

He had run in the general election in 1976 and won his seat again but he was unable to take his seat. A special election was held on 2/2/1977 to fill the District 21 seat.    
Yes, on 12/29/1976.

The Secretary of State has an official oath card filed on 12/29/1976.
Yes, on 12/29/1976. No They did not meet during his tenure.
58th Legislature (1953-1954) Donald O. Wright (R/C) Ancher Nelsen (R) 9/3/1954 to 1/3/1955     Lt. Governor Ancher Nelsen resigned on May 1, 1953 to become the head of the U.S. Rural Electrification Administration. It wasn't until September 3, 1954 that Senator Donald O. Wright was sworn in as Lt. Governor. He served until January 3, 1955. From the time Sen. Wright was sworn in as lieutenant governor, the Senate never met in session. Governor Orville Freeman and Lt. Governor Karl Rolvaag were elected to their respective offices in the 1954 election and took office in January 1955. Sen. Wright ran for and won re-election to his senate seat in the 1954 election, taking office again as a state senator in January 1955. The Lt. Governor position was vacant from 5/1/1953 to 9/3/1954.

Governor Orville Freeman and Lt. Governor Karl Rolvaag were elected to their respective offices in the 1954 election and took office in January 1955. Sen. Wright ran for and won re-election to his senate seat in the 1954 election, taking office again as a state senator in January 1955.
Yes, on 9/3/1954.

According to news, he waited until he knew there would not be a special session before he would take the oath of office for Lt. Governor. See "State Gets Lieutenant Governor" Mpls Star, Sept. 3, 1954.

The Secretary of State has an official oath card filed on 9/7/1954.
We can find no evidence of a resignation. No They did not meet during his tenure. He only took office as lt. gov. after it became clear he was running unopposed in the 1954 general election for his Senate seat and that there was little likelihood the Senate would meet in special session. 
53rd Legislature (1943-1944) Archie H. Miller (R/C) Edward Thye (R) 4/27/1943 to 1/2/1945     Governor Harold Stassen resigned on April 27, 1943 elevating Lt. Governor Edward Thye to governor.  As President Pro Tem, Senator Archie Miller became lieutenant governor; he was sworn in on May 6, 1943 and resigned from the Senate on May 10.  The Senate met just once, in a four-day special session that began on March 8, 1944, during Lt. Governor Archie Miller's tenure.  He served as the presiding officer and did not participate as a senator. He pursued running for lieutenant governor in the 1944 general election but the Minnesota Supreme Court determined in April 1944 that he was ineligible to run for that position.  The primary reason was because the Legislature had raised the pay of the governor, the lieutenant governor, and legislators; members of both houses were barred from running for governor or lieutenant governor in the upcoming election.  Instead, Archie Miller ran in a special election in November 1944 for the seat he had resigned from.  He won and returned to the Senate in January 1945. Archie Miller ran in a special election on November 7, 1944 for the seat he had resigned from.  He won and returned to the Senate on January 2, 1945. He was required to run in a special election to complete the final two years of his original four-year Senate term (1/5/1943 to 1/6/1947) after he served as lieutenant governor from 5/6/1943 to 1/2/1945 because he resigned from the Senate on 5/10/1943.

He pursued running for lieutenant governor in the 1944 general election but the Minnesota Supreme Court determined in April 1944 that he was ineligible to run for that position. 
Yes, on 5/6/1943.

(Mpls. Tribune, 4/16/1944, p. 12.)  
Yes, on 5/10/1943.   (Mpls. Tribune, 3/23/1944, p. 12.)     Yes, they met in a four-day special session (3/8/1944-3/11/1944). No, he served as the presiding officer and did not participate as a senator. See Star Tribune 2/7/43, p. 18 - "Miller may pass up Thye post."
50th Legislature (1937-1938) This situation is noted because it is unusual but it is not an instance in which Sen. Richardson (R) was elevated to be the lieutenant governor, he was acting as lieutenant governor due to the illness of Lt. Gov. Gottfrid Lindsten. (FL) In 1937, the Journal of the Senate states: "Due to illness, the Lieutenant-Governor-Elect Gottfried [sic] Lindsten was unable to assume the duties of his office." Senator William B. Richardson (President Pro Tem) was nominated and elected to "temporarily preside." Sen. Richardson apparently presided for the entire session. Sen. Richardson is referred to as President (without "Pro Tem") of the senate in some places in the 1937 Journal of the Senate. He takes the oath of office as President Pro Tem on the first day of the 1937 session.  No. The Senate met in regular session from 1/5/1937 to 4/22/1937. They met in special session 5/24/1937 to 7/23/1937.  It appears that Lt. Gov. Lindsten served during the 1937 special session but it isn't clear. Lieutenant Governor Lindsten   On April 20, 1937, because Richardson had served the entire session as acting lieutenant governor while Lt. Gov. Lindsten was ill, the Senate voted in Senate Resolution no. 14 to appropriate "$1000 which would give him the same emolument as is by law granted to the lieutenant governor as presiding officer.

Later that day, Lt. Gov. Lindsten sent a letter thanking Richardson for presiding during his absence.
49th Legislature (1935-1936) William B. Richardson (R)* Hjalmar Petersen (FL) 8/24/1936 to 1/1/1937 According to the Minnesota Historical Society, William B. Richardson served as "acting lieutenant governor" from August 24, 1936 to January 1, 1937.  Richardson was never sworn in as lieutenant governor. He was president pro tem of the Senate and became acting lieutenant governor when Governor Floyd B. Olson died and Lt. Governor Hjalmar Petersen became governor. Various newspaper articles from that time period refer to Richardson as "president of the state senate and prospective lieutenant governor" (August 24, 1936); "senate president" and "president pro tem" in the same article (August 24, 1936); "Acting Lieutenant Governor" (December 18, 1936); and as presiding over the senate as "Lieutenant Governor William B. Richardson" (December 18, 1936). When the Senate convened for the extra session on December 17, 1936, it was called to order by the "President of the Senate, Mr. William B. Richardson." The table of contents for the extra session lists William B. Richardson as "President Pro Tempore." Normally, a "Lieutenant Governor" is listed in addition to the "President Pro Tempore." William B. Richardson voted as a member of the senate throughout this extra session.

The following year, on the first day of session in 1937, the Journal of the Senate states: "Due to illness, the Lieutenant-Governor-Elect Gottfried [sic] Lindsten was unable to assume the duties of his office." Senator William B. Richardson (President Pro Tem) was nominated and elected to "temporarily preside." Sen. Richardson apparently presided for the entire session. Sen. Richardson is referred to as President (without "Pro Tem") of the senate in some places in the 1937 Journal of the Senate.
He did not resign. No? He does not appear to have taken an oath in 1936.

He is usually referred to as an "acting lieutenant governor" by the Minnesota Historical Society.
We can find no evidence of a resignation.

Also, he resumed his four-year (1/8/1935 to 1/2/1939) Senate term in January 1937 without running in a special election.  Once back in the Senate he had to serve as acting lieutenant governor due to the illness of Lt. Gov. Gottfrid Lindsten who had been elected in the 1936 general election.
Yes, the Senate convened for the one-day extra session on December 17, 1936. Yes, William B. Richardson voted as a member of the senate throughout this one day extra session. The House Journal during the 1936 extra session voted to appropriate money for the salary of the lieutenant governor.  It passed in both bodies.
46th Legislature (1929-1930) Charles E. Adams (R) William I. Nolan (R) 6/25/1929? to 1/6/1931 Lt. Governor William Nolan resigned in June 1929 when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election. Senator Charles E. Adams served as lieutenant governor from June 25, 1929 to January 6, 1931. While Sen. Adams served as lieutenant governor, the senate never met in session. Governor Floyd B. Olson and Lt. Governor Henry M. Arens were elected to their respective offices in the 1930 election and took office in January 1931. Sen. Adams ran for and won re-election to his senate seat in the 1930 election, taking office again as a state senator in January 1931. His original Senate term (1/4/1927 to 1/5/1931) was ending so Adams ran for and won re-election to his senate seat in the 1930 election, taking office again as a state senator in January 1931. Yes, he took the oath of office twice. He originally was sworn in in Duluth on 6/18/1929 or 6/19/1929 but William I. Nolan had not yet resigned at that time so he was sworn in again on 7/5/1929.

The Secretary of State has an official oath card filed on 7/6/1929.      
We did not find evidence of a resignation. No. They did not meet during his tenure. "Senator Charles E. Adams of Duluth, president pro tem of the state senate automatically becomes lieutenant governor. He will take the oath in Duluth. He does not lose his vote in the Senate by reason of the promotion." Star Tribune June 26, 1929  
39th Legislature (1915-1916) George H. Sullivan (R) J.A.A. Burnquist (R) 10/28/1916? to 1/2/1917 On December 30, 1915, Governor Hammond died in office. Lt. Governor J.A.A. Burnquist became Governor upon his death. We note Sen. George H. Sullivan as Lt. Governor starting on October 28, 1916. However, the newspapers call Sen. Sullivan "Lieutenant Governor" as early as January 1916 (in describing the funeral procession of Gov. Hammond, etc.). An article from October 29, 1916 states that during the October 28 one-day special session, Sullivan was sworn in as lieutenant governor, marking his "official ascendancy" to the post. His term as lieutenant governor was in the middle of his four-year Senate term (1/5/1915 to 1/6/1919).  He appears to have picked up where he left off and did not have to run in a special election to return to his seat. Yes? on 10/28/1916?

According to the press, he was sworn in on 10/28/1916; however, the Senate Journal for that day does not indicate that he was sworn in.

The Secretary of State has an official oath card filed on 10/28/1916.  
We did not find evidence of a resignation.

He resumed his role as a senator during the next legislative session.
Yes.

A one day special session was held on 10/28/1916.
Yes, he voted as a senator throughout the one day special session.
36th Legislature (1909-1910) Edward E. Smith (R) Adolph O. Eberhart (R) Disputed. 9/25/1909 or 6/25/1910 to 1/3/1911 (LRL and MHS)

Another date:   Minneapolis Tribune (5/27/1910)

reports he was sworn in as Lt. Governor on May 26, 1910.
When Governor John A. Johnson died on September 21, 1909, Lt. Governor A.O. Eberhart became governor and Senator Edward Smith became lieutenant governor, according to the Minnesota Historical Society. Sources vary as to when he was sworn in. A Minneapolis Tribune article from 1910 states that he was "quietly" sworn in that spring; he hadn't taken the oath yet, thinking it unnecessary. The paper goes on: "The lieutenant governor now either holds the double position of lieutenant governor and state senator - or if the one merges into the other, his district is without a legal representative." However, the Legislature did not meet between April 22, 1909 and January 3, 1911. His regular four-year Senate term (1/8/1907 to 1/2/1911) ended with his time as lieutenant governor.  He did not seek reelection to his Senate seat.       Yes?, on 5/26/1910?

This article sounds definitive but it is the only evidence: "At the time of the swearing in of Governor Eberhart, Mr. Smith did not feel it was necessary for him to take the oath immediately, as, in the opinion of the chief justice, the taking of the oath was merely a matter of form. Since then the question has been raised as to whether the state really had a lieutenant governor, and in order to quiet any possible questioning, the oath was quietly taken yesterday."

Morning Tribune (Minneapolis) 5/27/1910
We did not find evidence of a resignation No. They did not meet during his tenure. "Senator Smith's continuance in office as state senator, although lieutenant governor, is assured in a decision of the supreme court in what is popularly known as the Frank Day case in 1895. "...There is no escape from the conclusion that the president pro tempore does not cease to be a senator when he becomes lieutenant governor by reason of a vacancy in the governor's office." - Minneapolis Tribune 10/31/1909  
29th Legislature (1895-1896) Frank A. Day (R) David M. Clough (R) 1/31/1895 to 1/5/1897 Lt. Governor David Marston Clough became governor on January 31, 1895 when Governor Knute Nelson resigned to take a seat in the U.S. Senate. Senator Frank A. Day served as lieutenant governor from January 31, 1895 to January 5, 1897. While Sen. Day served as lieutenant governor, the Senate met in session from January 8, 1895 to April 23, 1895. According to an 1898 Minnesota Supreme Court case, Sen. Day acted as lieutenant governor while also acting and voting as a senator "with the tacit approval, at least, of the senate." Governor David M. Clough and Lt. Governor John L. Gibbs were elected to their respective offices in the 1896 election and took office in January 1897. Sen. Day ran for U.S. Congress in the 1896 election. It was presumed that by running for that office he ceased to be the state senator. He did not win election to Congress. When the legislature reconvened in 1897, both Sen. Day and Sen. Dunn, the latter of whom had been elected to fill Sen. Day's seat in a special election in November 1896, claimed the senate seat. Sen. Day is initially listed in the Journal of the Senate as holding the contested seat until a determination was made by the Senate on January 23, 1897 that Sen. Dunn had been duly elected and was entitled to the seat. Sen. Dunn took the oath of office on January 26, 1897. Senator Day was elected in 1894 to a four-year senate term, beginning in January 1895. The 29th legislature convened on January 8, 1895 and adjourned on April 23, 1895.

Senator Day attempted to come back to his Senate seat, and finish the second half of the term to which he had been elected in 1894, when the 30th legislature convened in 1897. However, a special election had been held in November 1896 to fill his seat, which had been considered vacant because he had become lieutenant governor.

Both he and H.H. Dunn, the latter of whom had been elected in that 1896 special election, claimed the Senate seat in January 1897. The Senate Journal indicates Sen. Day held the seat until January 23, 1897. At that point a determination was made by the Committee on Elections that Dunn had been duly elected and was entitled to the seat.
No, the Senate Journal indicates that Sen. Day had a conversation in which he said he had "never filed" his oath of office. The same section in the journal states that he "performed the duties of, and assumed to act as Lieutenant Governor of the State of Minnesota." No, it does not appear Sen. Day resigned from his senate seat while acting as lieutenant governor. However, he did lose his senate seat in the end.

Senator Day attempted to come back to his Senate seat, and finish the second half of the term to which he had been elected in 1894, when the 30th legislature convened in 1897. However, a special election had been held in November 1896 to fill his seat, which had been considered vacant because he had become lieutenant governor.

Both he and H.H. Dunn, the latter of whom had been elected in that 1896 special election, claimed the Senate seat in January 1897. The Senate Journal indicates Sen. Day held the seat until January 23, 1897. At that point a determination was made by the Committee on Elections that Dunn had been duly elected and was entitled to the seat.
Yes, they met  from 1/8/ 1895 to 4/23/1895. Yes, the Senate Journal indicates Senator Day voted on bills as a senator while he served as lieutenant governor. Additionally, according to an 1898 Minnesota Supreme Court case, Sen. Day acted as lieutenant governor while also acting and voting as a senator "with the tacit approval, at least, of the senate."
5th Legislature (1863) Henry A. Swift (R) Ignatius Donnelly (R) 3/4/1863 to 7/10/1863 Lt. Governor Ignatius Donnelly resigned on March 3, 1863 to take a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Henry A. Swift subsequently served briefly as lieutenant governor until July 10, 1863, and then became governor when Governor Ramsey resigned to take a seat in the U.S. Senate. Though the Journal of the Senate notes Sen. Swift occasionally convening the senate in his capacity as president pro tem during the early parts of the 1863 session, the Journal states he was "duly elected" president pro tem on March 5, 1863. The Minnesota Historical Society lists his term as lieutenant governor beginning March 4, 1863. During the last few days of the legislative session, the Journal of the Senate records Sen. Swift voting on bills. Senator Swift became lieutenant governor in the middle of his senate term and just before the conclusion of the 1863 session. He was re-elected to the state senate in the 1863 election, and was sworn into the senate on 1/12/1864 (a few days after the senate convened). His term as Governor had concluded on 1/11/1864. No, we have not yet uncovered evidence that he took an oath of office for Lt. Governor or Governor but more research is needed. No, it does not appear Sen. Swift resigned his Senate seat. Yes, the legislature was in session until 3/6/1863. Sen. Swift became Lt. Governor on 3/4/1863. Yes, he became lieutenant governor 3/4/1863. He voted on bills on 3/5/1863.  There were no bills passed on 3/6/1863, the last day of session, but he did vote on the resolutions passed that day.

*William Richardson was the only lieutenant governor (of those who became lieutenant governor due to a vacancy) who served with a governor of a different party. He was Republican and served under Governor Hjalmar Petersen who was Farmer-Labor from 8/24/1936 to 1/1/1937. Also, due to the illness of Lieutenant Governor in 1937, Republican William Richardson served as acting lieutenant governor in 1937; both Governor Elmer Benson and Lieutenant Governor Gottfrid Linsten were Farmer-Labor.

Party abbreviations key: C = Conservative, DFL = Democratic-Farmer-Labor, FL = Farmer-Labor, R = Republican

Supporting Documents:

Additional supporting documents, articles, oaths, etc. are on file at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.

Michelle L. Fischbach

Alec G. Olson

Additional Documents