Martin Sabo has scheduled a press conference Saturday to announce he's not seeking re-election, according to Minnesota congressional delegation staffers. The 5th District Democrat has been a member of Congress representing Minneapolis for 28 years.
Sabo, 68, is second in seniority to only fellow Democrat Jim Oberstar in the Minnesota congressional delegation. Sabo is the ranking Democratic member of the powerful House Appropriations committee.
State Sen. Wes Skoglund, a friend, says Sabo has played a key role in a long list of projects in and out of his district.
"No light rail if it wasn't for Martin Sabo, I don't know that the Northstar corridor would be going through without Martin Sabo, noise insulation at the airport," says Skoglund. "The list goes on and on. He's been a watchdog on how the government spends its money on military things, putting money forward where we really should and curbing the spending where we shouldn't."
Olin Moore, who worked in Sabo's office for a decade, says Sabo connects with his constituents by remembering his humble beginnings as the son of immigrant parents living on a farm in North Dakota. Moore says Sabo's retirement will set off a mad rush of candidates wanting to take his place.
"There'll probably be a lot of people who are initially interested. That will probably winnow down to a smaller list once people realize everything that's involved, and particularly the extent of the fundraising that's involved in running a competative congressional race."
Moore predicts the fight to fill the empty 5th District seat will be one of the most expensive in recent history. The district includes all of Minneapolis, as well as first-ring metropolitan suburbs such as Richfield, Columbia Heights and Fridley.