Saltzman: Retiring lawmaker helped east metroA Woodbury lawmaker said the retirement of a veteran legislator and transportation leader will not hurt Woodbury-area transportation initiatives, Sen. Kathy Saltzman said.
By: Mike Longaecker and Scott Wente, RiverTown Newspaper Group
The retirement of a veteran lawmaker and transportation leader will not hurt Woodbury-area transportation initiatives, Sen. Kathy Saltzman said.
Steve Murphy of Red Wing, an 18-year member of the Minnesota Senate and an influential committee chairman, said Friday that he will not seek re-election this year.
Murphy has drawn attention for his work as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. He advocated for a primary seat belt law and was a key player in the Legislature’s approval of a transportation spending plan that raised the state gasoline tax over Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s objection.
Saltzman, like Murphy a Democrat, serves on the Senate Transportation Committee. The Woodbury lawmaker said she has considered Murphy a political mentor at the Capitol and credited him with helping to promote east-metro transportation projects.
With Murphy’s help, she said, area lawmakers realized they have a better chance at fighting for transportation funding if they work together as a region.
“That will continue long past Sen. Murphy’s retirement,” Saltzman said.
Local lawmakers will push this year for $1.5 million in state-borrowed funds for a park-and-ride station along I-94 near Manning Avenue, but it will be a challenge. Pawlenty did not include the project in his public works plan.
Murphy told the Red Wing Republican Eagle that he wants to spend more time with family and pursue other interests.
“The Legislature always needs a healthy infusion of fresh blood,” Murphy told the newspaper, which like the Woodbury Bulletin is owned by Forum Communications Co.
Murphy's District 28 seat has drawn the interest of Red Wing Mayor John Howe, who announced last week he will seek the GOP endorsement. No other candidates have stepped forward so far in the race.
Murphy said he hopes that his seat stays in Democratic control. But "unless the DFL poses a strong candidate," Murphy would encourage Republican Rep. Tim Kelly of Red Wing to run for the seat.
State Republicans received Friday's announcement with excitement after having targeted Murphy last summer during an aggressive campaign to win back legislative seats.
Minnesota Republican Party Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb called that attempt successful.
"There's no question that had an impact," he said of efforts to oust Murphy from the seat. "That should have been a very big symbol to him that he was on a target list."
Murphy said that was not a factor in his decision.