Sabo and Vento continue their Democratic leadership in House

by Stacy Jo

Michelle Moriarity
Decades of traditional Democratic representation will continue in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 4th and 5th districts.
With more than 40 years of combined legislative experience, Democratic incumbents Bruce Vento and Martin Olav Sabo demonstrated Tuesday that Twin Cities area voters prefer experienced leadership.
Vento, who has served as the District 4 representative since 1977, will rejoin his colleague, Sabo, who has held his District 5 office since 1979.
At press time, 81 percent of precincts reported Vento edging out Republican Party contender Dennis Newinski for the third consecutive time. Vento prevailed by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent.
“We reapplied and they gave me the job,” Vento said.
In his 12th congressional term, Vento plans to continue the work he has done over the past 22 years, with investments in education, environmental issues and Social Security reform continuing to be his top priorities.
Vento’s concentration on environmental issues prompted his serving on a number of committees that aim to preserve wilderness areas and natural resources.
He said he intends to appease the voters by returning the focus in Washington, D.C. back to politics, something his “incumbent candidate” opponent would be unable to do.
Newinski, who ran against and lost to Vento by 13 percentage points in 1994 and 20 percentage points in 1996, was banking on capturing votes in the absence of a Reform Party candidate.
Although he made no predictions about a fourth attempt at the seat in the year 2000, Newinski was upbeat about his defeat.
“This is an election,” Newinski said. “It’s not the end.”
Minor party candidates for District 4 included Michael Neitzel of the Libertarian Party, Carol Schulstad of the Minnesota Taxpayers Party, Dan Vacek of the Legal Marijuana Now Party and Heather Wood of the Socialist Workers Party.
In District 5, 87 percent of precincts reported Sabo leading with 71 percent of the vote at press time. Republican challenger Frank Taylor trailed with 29 percent of the vote.
Sabo has served on House transportation and national security subcommittees, and budget and policy committees.
“We’ve enjoyed good support from people over the years,” Sabo said. “We work hard at it to represent what they value.”
A strong supporter of higher education and fine arts, Sabo lobbied for allocation of federal funds for construction of the Basic Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Building and program support for the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum.
He also lobbied for the $17 million budget appropriation for Minnesota’s light-rail transit project.
Republican challenger Frank Taylor, who has taught in Minneapolis public schools for more than 30 years, said the loss does not signify the end of his campaign. He will continue to lobby for deregulated education, less crime and lower taxes in preparation for his 2000 campaign.
“Win or lose, we’re still going to look at those issues,” Taylor said. “We will start immediately tomorrow beginning to raise money (for the campaign.)”
Minor party candidates for District 5 included Libertarian Kevin Houston, Anti-Federalist Jason Kassel and Michael Pennock of the Socialist Workers Party.
Districts 4 and 5 include the University’s Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, the Twin Cities and several surrounding suburbs.