Understanding Majority Leader Paul Gazelka

Anyone wanting to develop an understanding of Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-13, Brainerd) should read his book Market Place Ministers. The book is out of print, but based on our initiative, there is now a copy available in the Legislative Reference Library.

From the book, we learn Gazelka is an Iron Ranger born in Virginia. His ministry does not emanate from a formal church, but rather is a component part of his insurance business. Reading the book provides insight into the trials and tribulations of a non-traditional religious practice and the challenges the Gazelka and his wife Marlee have faced throughout their lives.

When Gazelka was selected as majority leader we heard his wife informed the other members of the caucus they would be having regular prayer meetings. Additionally, we had heard Gazelka had to address a personal issue, prior to his election, which some members of the caucus had a significant concern about. On page 24 page of the book, Gazelka writes, “I had secrets deep in me that I didn’t want her (Marlee) to know about. I was ashamed to admit that I secretly looked at pornography at times when traveling away from home. Hotels often provided pornographic images that I chose to watch.”

The challenges of leadership are also a yoke to bear, and we will watch the activities in the Senate and look for signs of Gazelka’s guidance as specific piece’s pf legislation move forward. Traditionally, the senate is the more deliberative legislative body, less driven by the whims of the day. With a razor, thin majority, any single caucus member can dictate the terms of specific legislation, because they can hang things up until they get their way. The concept of herding cats comes directly to mind.

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