Michelle was born and raised on a family farm in Murdock, Minnesota. After graduating from Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg High School she attended the College of St. Catherine. After graduating in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, she married Craig Benson. After Craig’s 5 years in the Naval Nuclear Submarine Corps, they returned to Minnesota. Michelle earned an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. She worked as an auditor and consultant for Deloitte & Touche. During her years as a mom, she served on her children’s school board and as a scout leader.
As she observed Congress pushing through the ACA, she decided to run for office. With the support of family and friends she was endorsed and elected to the Minnesota Senate in 2010. During her first term she served on the Health & Human Services, Agriculture, Energy, and Government Reform & Redesign Committees. She also served on the Capitol Security Commission and the Governor’s Health Reform Task Force. Michelle was re-elected to the Senate in 2012 and then elected as Assistant Minority Leader by her peers. She currently serves on Health & Human Services Policy as Committee Lead, Health & Human Services Finance, and Environment & Energy Committees. She also serves on the Subcommittee on Employee Relations, the Office of the Legislative Auditor Advisory Committee, and the Oversight Committee for MNsure. Michelle also serves on hiring and messaging committees for the Caucus.
In January 2014, gubernatorial candidate Dave Thompson selected Michelle to be his running mate for the governorship of Minnesota.