Gov. Walz back in charge after knee surgery

Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday afternoon he was back in charge of state government after handing off control for more than two hours while he had knee surgery.

Walz transferred power to Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan at 12:30 p.m. His staff told reporters via email at 3:08 p.m. that he had retaken control.

“Thank you to all the medical professionals who contributed to a quick and successful procedure that will allow me to start running again,” Walz said in an emailed statement. “And thank you to Lt. Gov. Flanagan for holding down the fort at the Capitol today. I look forward to getting back in the office on Monday after a weekend of recuperation.” 

Walz had surgery at TRIA Orthopedics in Bloomington to repair a medial meniscus tear. The injury had been bothering him for months, his staff has said.

Flanagan said she did not have time to talk with reporters when she left the Capitol around 11:30 a.m. and headed to the food trucks outside. A spokesman said she had to return for a meeting.

Teddy Tschann, the spokesman, did not immediately say who Flanagan was meeting with Thursday afternoon.

Flanagan said earlier in the week that she planned to take no official actions during her time in power, and that she and Walz wanted to be as transparent as possible about the process.

The governor’s office has downplayed the power transfer all week, but such events are rare in Minnesota politics.

Former Gov. Mark Dayton did not transfer power to his lieutenant governor during a 40-day hospitalization last year following two back surgeries, an infection and lung damage.

Dayton said the governor’s office functioned normally even as he was at Mayo Clinic.

At that time, he would’ve needed to hand off control to a Republican lieutenant governor, Michelle Fischbach. Walz had no such concerns.

Walz planned to return home Thursday. Physical rehabilitation would take about six weeks, his office said.

The governor plans to have surgery on his right knee soon to repair a similar issue, his office said.