Johnson: There's a side of me that feels they simply do not want me anymore, and I do not feel the situation is a good fit for my political future or for theirs.Johnson has twice been censured by his local party, in 1994 for his support of gay rights, and last summer for his position on the Profile of Learning graduation standards, which he wanted to tweak but not scrap. Johnson is a Lutheran minister and National Guard chaplain, and says while he supports religious freedom, he thinks the Republican Party tries to impose its conservative social agenda on others. He says the party should be more tolerant.
Johnson: I wouldn't categorize the Republican Party as mean-spirited, but I have felt personally, back home, there have been mean-spirited letters to the editor. And ultimately it came down to - my wife said to me while in the hospital, she said, "Dean, you're not going to run for re-election and seek the party endorsement." She said, "I don't want you to go through that."Johnson's wife is recovering from breast cancer surgery, and he says he hasn't decided whether to seek re-election this year. Johnson announced his decision surrounded by a cheering crowd of about 50 DFL lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, who called Johnson a close friend and skilled legislator.
Moe: We are excited about having Dean join us. Don't expect him to change. We expect him to continue to be a moderate on these issues, to understand that in this state, not only do you have to balance all of the diversity and geography of this state, but you also have to balance the budget by having reasonable tax cuts and investments.
"Over the last few years anyway, he's basically voted with the DFL a lot of the time anyway."
- Dick Day
Senate Minority Leader
Day: Oh, gosh, over the last few years anyway, he's basically voted with the DFL a lot of the time anyway. So it's time now where, I think, he can maybe switch and gain some chairmanships, and, you know, caucus with the DFL.Day says he's not happy about losing a caucus member, but Johnson's switch does little to change the balance of power in the Senate. Democrats increase their hold on the majority with 41 members. There are 25 Republicans and one independent, Charlie Berg of Chokio; Day says there's a chance Berg may make up for Johnson's loss by joining the Republican caucus.