42-year lawmaker, Democrat Jim Metzen, to retire after term

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State Sen. Jim Metzen (Senate handout)

One of Minnesota's longest-serving lawmakers says he'll retire after finishing his current term.

Democratic state Sen. Jim Metzen of South St. Paul announced Saturday he would leave the Legislature after 42 years. He has been battling cancer.

The gregarious lawmaker, who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and a past Senate president, first came to the Capitol as a 31-year-old House member. After a dozen years, he moved on to the Senate, where he has served since 1987.

"I have always been pragmatic in my approach at the Legislature," he said in a statement. "When my term is completed it is my hope that many constituents believe I represented them well and those that came in contact with me at the Capitol believe I was fair. No matter if you were a Democrat or Republican, I tried to form friendships and alliances with people."

Metzen's health issues had fueled speculation he would consider retirement. Another Democrat, Matthew Klein, had recently launched a campaign in the district. The seat could be in play as Republicans try to wrest Senate control back from Democrats in November, which would require them to flip at least a half-dozen seats.

State Rep. Rick Hansen, also a South St. Paul Democrat, praised Metzen for delivering for the area and the state as a whole. He cited Metzen's role in establishing the Mighty Ducks grant program that helps communities upgrade ice arenas.

"I will miss his expertise, leadership, and most importantly, his laughter in the Legislature," Hansen said.

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