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Minnesota Lieutenant Governors, 1858-present

Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

Compiled from Minnesota legislative manuals and other sources, including previous library compilations and several histories of Minnesota. Where a name or party designation is not given in the list, it was not given authoritatively in the sources so far consulted. It may be available from other sources. While efforts have been made to verify this information in more than one source, the library cannot guarantee the accuracy of sources; errors are possible. Please report any errors to the library staff.

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.”  Notes about the instances when that has occurred are included in the table below.  For more extensive details, see, Presiding Officers of the Senate who became Lieutenant Governor.

1/7/2019 Peggy Flanagan DFL Saint Louis Park Nonprofit Management

Michelle Fischbach

Lt. Governor Tina Smith resigned 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 took the oath of office for lieutenant governor on May 25, 2018.

R Paynesville Business Owner
1/5/2015 Tina Smith DFL Minneapolis Marketing and Communications
1/3/2011 Yvonne Prettner Solon DFL Duluth Psychologist
1/6/2003 Carol Molnau R Chaska Farm Owner/Operator
1/4/1999 Mae Schunk Reform** Inver Grove Heights School Enrichment Specialist
1/3/1995 Joanne E. Benson IR* St. Cloud Educator
1/7/1991 Joanell M. Dyrstad IR Red Wing Business owner (drugstore)
1/3/1983 Marlene Johnson DFL St. Paul Advertising
1/4/1979 Lou Wangberg IR Bemidji Teacher, Principal, School superintendent

Alec G. Olson

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. 

DFL Spicer Farmer
Prior to 1972, the Lieutenant Governor presided over the Senate; see President and President Pro Tempore of the Minnesota Senate
1/4/1971 Rudy (Rudolph G.) Perpich DFL Hibbing Dentist
1/2/1967 James B. Goetz, R Winona Broadcasting
1/8/1963 A. M. (Alexander McKenzie) "Sandy" Keith DFL Rochester Lawyer
1/3/1955 Karl F. (Karl Fritjof) Rolvaag DFL Rochester Insurance executive

Donald O. (Donald Orr) Wright

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.

R Minneapolis Lawyer
1/5/1953 Ancher Nelsen (He served until May 1, 1953.) R Hutchinson Farmer
1/2/1945 C. Elmer (Clyde Elmer) Anderson R Brainerd Newspaper business

Archie H. Miller

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.

R Hopkins Lawyer
1/4/1943 Edward J. (Edward John) Thye R Northfield Farmer
1/2/1939 C. Elmer (Clyde Elmer) Anderson R Brainerd Newspaper business
1/5/1937 Gottfrid Lindsten FL Minneapolis Railroad

William B. Richardson

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.

R Rochester Lawyer, Businessman
1/8/1935 Hjalmar Petersen FL Askov Newspaper editor, Printer
1/3/1933 Konrad K. Solberg FL Clarkfield Farmer
1/6/1931 Henry M. Arens FL Jordan Farmer, V.P. Land-o-Lakes Creamery

Charles E. Adams

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.

R Duluth Lawyer
1/6/1925 William I. (William Ignatius) Nolan R Minneapolis Politician

Louis L. (Louis Loren) Collins

R Minneapolis Lawyer
1/2/1917 Thomas Frankson R St. Paul Teacher, Lawyer, Real estate, Farmer

George H. Sullivan

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.

R Stillwater Lawyer
1/7/1913 J. A. A. (Joseph Alfred Arner) Burnquist R St. Paul Lawyer
1/3/1911 Samuel Y. Gordon R Browns Valley Newspaper, Implement business
9/25/1909 (disputed)

Edward E.(Edward Everett) Smith

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.

R Minneapolis Lawyer
1/7/1907 Adolph O. (Adolph Olson) Eberhart R Mankato Lawyer, Banker
1/5/1903 Ray W. Jones R Minneapolis Lumber company executive
1/3/1899 Lyndon A. (Lyndon Ambrose) Smith R Montevideo Teacher, Lawyer
1/5/1897 John L. Gibbs R Geneva Farmer

Frank A. (Frank Arah) Day

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.

R Fairmont Newpaper publisher
1/3/1893 David M. (David Marston) Clough R Minneapolis Lumberman
1/5/1891 Gideon S. (Gideon Sprague) Ives R St. Peter Lawyer
1/4/1887 Albert E. Rice R Willmar Banker, Businessman
1/10/1880 Charles A. (Charles Andrew) Gilman R St. Cloud Lawyer
1/7/1876 James B. Wakefield R Blue Earth Lawyer
1/9/1874 Alphonso Barto R Sauk Centre Lawyer
1/7/1870 William H. Yale R Winona (St. Paul, per Toensing) Lawyer

Thomas H. Armstrong

Armstrong had been a Democrat until 1861.

R High Forest Banker

Charles D. Sherwood

R Prescott Farmer, Newspaper owner

Henry A. (Henry Adoniram) Swift

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.

R St. Peter Lawyer

Ignatius Donnelly

Donnelly had been a Democrat until 1857.

R Nininger Lawyer, Poet, Author, Politician
5/24/1858 William Holcombe D Stillwater Steamboating, Lumber

* The Independent-Republican Party reverted back to the Republican Party in 1995.

** In 2000, Lt. Governor Shunk left the Reform Party and joined the Independence Party of Minnesota.

Party abbreviations key: DFL=Democratic-Farmer-Labor, R=Republican, IR=Independent-Republican, A=Alliance, D=Democrat, C=Conservative, FL=Farmer-Labor, L=Liberal, P=Populist, W=Whig