Gov. Walz to have knee surgery Thursday, transfer powers to lieutenant governor

Gov. Tim Walz will have surgery on his left knee Thursday to repair a medial meniscus tear and will temporarily transfer his powers to Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan while he’s under anesthetic, a Walz spokesman said.

On Monday, Walz sent a letter to House Speaker Melissa Hortman and Senate President Jeremy Miller of his plans. The transfer of power will happen at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

“After years of running, this minor surgery will help ensure I can hit the pavement again soon,” Gov. Walz said in an emailed statement. “I expect a smooth surgery and I have full confidence in Lt. Gov. Flanagan to temporarily hold the power of the office while I am under anesthesia.”

By law, Walz must send another written declaration to the House speaker and Senate president after the surgery to resume his powers.

The governor will return home later Thursday before starting physical therapy, his spokesman said. Walz will return to the office on Monday and should be back at full strength in six weeks, the spokesman said. 

Walz plans to have the same procedure on his right knee sometime soon, the spokesman said.

Walz’s surgery will happen at TRIA Orthopedic in Bloomington.

Transfers of power have happened infrequently in Minnesota government.

Former Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton did not transfer power to Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, a Republican, when Dayton underwent back surgery last fall.

Dayton suffered ill effects from the surgery, leading to a lung condition that kept him hospitalized at Mayo Clinic for more than a month.