Several DFL state representatives have announced in recent weeks that they won’t seek reelection, in part because of primary challenges from younger, more progressive candidates.
Longtime Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis) announced her retirement Tuesday after serving 17 terms in the Minnesota House—a political career that spanned more than three decades.
“I have been on the cutting edge of so many issues during my career and have championed clean air and clean water even when those issues were on the Legislature’s back burner,” she said in a statement. “Now, thanks to Minnesotans who voted in 2018, there is a new and larger group of legislators who are already effective leaders for clean air and water and combating climate change. I can now serve in a new way. I will not stop being an advocate and a mentor.”
The veteran lawmaker was facing two primary challenges, including one from Tyler Moroles, who currently serves as the treasurer for the DFL Party.
Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul), who was first elected in 1998, also announced his retirement in an October 30 statement.
“It is time for me to enjoy the next chapter in my life,” he said in a press release. “I can’t thank the people of the East Side enough for allowing me to represent them at the Capitol for the past two decades. I am looking forward to spending time with my wife, two daughters, three stepsons, and two grandsons.”
Mahoney was looking at a primary race against Hoang Murphy, a 28-year-old Vietnamese immigrant who worked in the Obama administration and filed to run for the seat. Murphy told The Star Tribune in a recent interview that Mahoney is no longer “reflective of what the East Side looks like now.”
Some DFL operatives and elected officials expressed concern that a wave of progressive challengers could limit valuable resources the party needs to flip the Senate in 2020.
“Of course it makes it more challenging to take back the Senate, but we’re just going to keep plugging forward,” said State Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Minneapolis).
Rep. Alice Mann (DFL-Lakeville) has indicated that she’ll retire from politics after just one term in the House, while fellow first-term legislator Rep. Hunter Cantrell (DFL-Savage) said Tuesday he won’t seek reelection.
“After a great deal of consideration, I have decided that now is an appropriate time to complete my bachelor’s degree, which was put on hold when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2017,” the freshman lawmaker said in a statement. “Though I won’t be running for re-election, I look forward to continuing to work on lowering the cost of prescription drugs, providing opportunities for every child to receive a world-class education, and making Minnesota a place where everyone can thrive.”
On the Republican side, State Sen. Scott Jensen (R-Chaska) plans to step down at the end of his current term.
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