Gen Olson confirms she will retire

From MPR’s Tom Weber…

State Sen. Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista, confirmed to MPR news on Thursday that she will retire at the end of her term this year.

“That’s old news at this point,” she said, adding that she had announced her plans at her party caucuses two years ago. Indeed, her plans were well-known to education lobbyists and other politicos at the Capitol, but there had never been a formal announcement. “It wasn’t a press release, or anything like that,” she said. “It was to the people in my district, and word has spread since.”

This marks Olson’s 30th year in elective office, a “pretty long time,” she noted, “for something I never aspired to do.”

Olson, whose district includes a portion of the west metro, became chair of the Senate Education Committee in 2011, when the GOP took control of the Legislature.

She ran for U.S. Senate in 1994 but lost the nomination to Rod Grams at the state convention; in 1998, she was the endorsed candidate for Lt. Governor, running with Republican Norm Coleman, who lost to Jesse Ventura.

Olson also had significant health issues late last year; she was in intensive care for several days after having her spleen removed. She says she’s recovering, adding the surgery helped restore her energy.

Olson isn’t the only key voice on education matters leaving the Legislature this year. State Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, announced her retirement last week. She’s the top-ranking Democrat on the Education Finance committee, a panel she chaired before the GOP won control of the Legislature in the 2010 election.

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