DFL Sen. Stumpf won’t run again; seat in play for GOP

State Sen. Leroy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, on May 5, 2014. Tim Pugmire/MPR news

Democratic Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, a 36-year Capitol veteran who hails from a politically competitive district, won't seek re-election in November.

Stumpf's announcement Wednesday puts a seat in play for Republicans seeking to reclaim the chamber majority in November. Stumpf, of Plummer, is in his 10th Senate term after serving one term in the House. The far northwestern district he represents is comprised of two House districts held by Republicans.

He is chairman of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, which helps decide which public works projects will qualify for hundreds of millions of state financing.

In a news release, Stumpf said many family milestones have passed since he first came to the Legislature and he wants to reclaim more time to spend with his wife, Carol, and eight grandchildren. He noted that his three children were youngsters when he was first elected and now all are grown with families of their own.

"This is the right time for us to spend more time with each other and our family," Stumpf said.

During his tenure, Stumpf focused on education policy and for a time chaired the committee that decided how the state would spend money on schools. He helped write the law that gave students the chance to take post-secondary courses while still in high school, saving them money on college credits later. And he was a champion of bringing more technology to rural schools.

“As I reflect on my experiences, I appreciate the good fortune to work with all legislators, regardless of their party affiliation, to shape legislative changes that made Minnesota a better state," Stumpf said. "I look forward to rolling up my sleeves during the upcoming legislative session to advance a strong bonding bill to help communities with their infrastructure needs and job creation.”

Politically, the decision will vault the seat into the upper echelon of competitive 2016 Senate races. All 67 seats are on the line, but fewer than a dozen will be truly in play this fall. Republicans need to gain six or more seats to win the Senate majority from Democrats. The race for control of the House, now in GOP hands, is also expected to be tight.

Stumpf was one of six DFL senators who represents a district shared by a pair of House Republicans.

The others are: Sen. Rod Skoe of Clearbrook, Sen. Lyle Koenen of Clara City, Sen. Vicki Jensen of Owatonna, Sen. Matt Schmit of Red Wing and Sen. Greg Clausen of Apple Valley.

Stumpf is the 11th incumbent senator to take a pass on re-election.

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