GOP Rep. Tim Kelly to retire from Minnesota House

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing Alex Kolyer | MPR News

Minnesota House Transportation Committee chair Tim Kelly announced Wednesday that he’ll leave after his fourth term expires this year.

Kelly, of Red Wing, will be front and center during the upcoming debate over a long-term transportation funding plan. Talks over a deal stalled in 2015, but Kelly and his Democratic Senate counterpart are expressing confidence in getting something done this election-year session.

In a news release, Kelly said he made his intentions known now to give possible successors a chance to prepare a campaign. A Democratic challenger had already emerged, according to the Red Wing Republican-Eagle, which first reported Kelly’s decision.

Kelly’s press statement noted that he is a new grandfather and preparing to see his youngest son graduate from high school this spring. He said he’s also anxious to devote more time to his financial advisory business.

First elected in 2008, Kelly became an expert in transportation issues. He took over as chairman of the transportation finance panel when Republicans gained the majority in 2014.

“Certainly he will be missed,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “He’s the chair of the transportation committee and he has a lot of work yet to do this session. Obviously, it’s probably the biggest issue we’ll be focusing on this session _ a pretty comprehensive transportation bill.”

Daudt said caucus leaders were aware of Kelly’s plans and have already been courting a potential replacement candidate. Daudt said he’s confident the GOP will hold the seat.

Kelly was also in the news last summer after being cited by a suburban parks patrolman who encountered the lawmaker with a fellow GOP legislator. Both lawmakers insisted they did nothing wrong but opted not to challenge the citation in court.