Sabo’s retirement an opportunity to change

Reflecting on Sabo’s career, Minnesotans can be proud to call him one of their own.

Rep. Martin Sabo held public office for 46 years. He never lost an election. After 14-consecutive terms in the U.S. House, Sabo has decided to retire.

Sabo first was elected to the Minnesota House when he was 22 years old. He served there for 18 years, at which point he was elected to U.S. Congress.

Sabo’s retirement is a loss not only for Minneapolis – the city he represented – but also for the entire state of Minnesota. He symbolizes the type of politician that is sorely lacking in Washington. Characteristic of his integrity, he never grandstanded or publicly blasted an opponent, choosing instead to get work done.

The many eager politicians seeking to take over Sabo’s seat will have some big shoes to fill. Over his long career, Sabo has made great accomplishments. During the Clinton administration, when he was budget committee chairman, he crafted the landmark budget that led to the largest deficit reduction in history and led the nation to a budget surplus. His work can be seen all over Minneapolis, from the Hennepin Avenue Bridge to the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Any successor to Sabo would do well to follow Sabo’s example. Sabo has been criticized in recent years for not doing enough to urge his democratic colleagues to partake in his endeavors. The retirement of Sabo leaves a great opportunity for the Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer campaign, which has been left by their lonesome as successors to the seat. Nelson-Pallmeyer is beloved by many of the anti-war groups in the 5th District, and Sabo’s retirement means the DFL Party will have to make a choice.

Either the DFL establishment will push forward a moderate, boring character that will potentially bend to the winds, similar to Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, or they will throw their weight behind Nelson-Pallmeyer. No matter what political persuasion, we can appreciate the work Sabo has done over his career. We also can appreciate the fissures in the DFL Party his retirement will expose; hopefully this will lead to a realignment of positive political magnitude.