Dorfman enters race for Sabo’s seat


Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman on Monday announced her intention to seek the DFL endorsement for the U.S. House seat held now by Martin Sabo.

“I enter this race with gratitude to Congressman Sabo for serving us so well, with great respect for the institution of the House of Representatives, and with a passion to fight for a different kind of America—one that reflects the progressive values we share in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District,” Dorfman said.

Dorfman, a seven-year veteran of the Hennepin County Board and formerly the mayor of St. Louis Park, is the third candidate—and first woman—to throw her hat into the ring to replace Sabo, who announced his retirement Saturday. She is considered a strong candidate for the DFL endorsement because of her ability to raise money and her urban-suburban constituency. But she had not contemplated making a run before 2008. “I did not anticipate that Martin would be making this decision,” she explained.

Nor had she expected that State Sen. Scott Dibble—often mentioned as one of the favorites to succeed Sabo—would decline to run. Dibble has thrown his support to her, as has her colleague Mike Opat, another prospective candidate who has decided to forego the campaign.

Dorfman said she would run on her record and would emphasize her experience dealing with urban and suburban issues. “I feel I have my feet in both communities,” she said. “I know how to get things done.”

The first woman to officially announce her candidacy, Dorfman emphasized the importance of increasing the representation of women in Washington. “There are more women in Congress than there used to be, but there is room for a lot more women than that,” she said.

Dorfman is the mother of five teenagers—all of whom encouraged her to run, she said. “I’m really energized,” she said. “I started raising money this morning.”

Though she will likely be one of the favorites to capture the DFL endorsement in May, Dorfman said she was not yet prepared to declare whether she would drop out of the race if she didn’t prevail at the convention.

She joins activist Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, State Rep. Keith Ellison, Park Board president Jon Olson, and City Council members Gary Schiff and Paul Ostrow as official DFL candidates, as well as the Green Party’s Jay Pond and Republicans Tim Anderson and James Turnham. Many more candidates, however, are likely to surface. Among the more likely are Sabo’s chief of staff and former state DFL Party chair Mike Erlandson, State Rep. Margaret Kelliher Anderson, City Council Member Lisa Goodman, former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew, State Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, former State Sen. Ember Reichgott Jung, and Sabo’s daughter, former State Sen. Julie Sabo.