Former U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo died on Sunday at the age of 78. Reactions to his death follow:
ST. PAUL MAYOR CHRIS COLEMAN
“Congressman Sabo represented the best in Minnesota politics. A man of few words, he led by example. He understood that being a leader, whether Speaker of the Minnesota House or Chair of the U.S. House Budget Committee, meant bringing people together around important work.
“His legislative record in the Minnesota House, the complicated consensus that allowed construction of the Hiawatha LRT Line to go forward, the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 and a balanced federal budget will all stand as testament to the respect he engendered on both sides of the aisle. And when it was time to return to private life, Martin devoted his time to encouraging young people to be involved in the issues of the day.
“Last week’s Sabo Symposium on the work Minnesota is doing to implement the climate agreements reached in Paris was just our last glimpse of a life lived in service to the world. I will miss his intellect, his humility and his unwavering optimism about what we, together, can accomplish.”
REP. BETTY MCCOLLUM
“Today Minnesota and America has lost a good man and an exceptional public servant. It was my profound honor to serve with Martin Sabo as a colleague in the U.S. House. Martin was a quiet Norwegian, but a giant as a legislator and public servant in both the Minnesota Legislature and Congress. He was liberal, smart, and his values reflected the very best of Minnesota’s traditions and heritage. In Congress, Martin was reserved, but when he spoke the room went silent because everyone knew something worth hearing was about to be said. Martin’s astute ability to direct federal funds to key infrastructure projects, like light rail transit, transformed Minneapolis, positioning the Twin Cities for the 21st Century. And, his Chairmanship of the House Budget Committee in the 1990s set the country on a course that resulted in a federal budget surplus that was unfortunately squandered. I will always remember Martin as the kindest of souls and one of the most effective and wise public servants I’ve ever known. My prayers are with Martin, Sylvia, their entire family, and Martin’s many, many devoted members of his staff.”
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE
“Everybody liked him, he was very smart, very talented, Minnesota steady all the time.”
“Minnesota, Minneapolis especially, was the beneficiary of his Congressional clout.”
“It was a very different time, you could sit down, have your argument and you worked it out, that was Sabo all the way. He was beloved by Republicans and Democrats.”
REP. KEITH ELLISON
“This is a sad day for our country. For more than 40 years of public service, Martin Sabo stood up for every Minnesotan – no matter their age, race, or economic standing. He was a true progressive, and cared more about fighting for the American people than getting his name in the press. He was a man of substance who worked tirelessly to preserve Social Security, take care of our veterans, improve our public infrastructure, and pass budgets that were fair to working Americans.
“We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his service. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
REP. JOHN KLINE
“Congressman Sabo often looked for common ground where Republicans and Democrats could agree, and he always put Minnesota first. He was a true gentleman in Congress and I appreciated his personal congratulations a few months ago after our bill to replace No Child Left Behind became law. Vicky and I extend our prayers to the entire Sabo family.”
REP. COLLIN PETERSON
“Congressman Sabo was an outstanding public servant who left a gigantic legacy in Minnesota and beyond. In 1993, as House Budget Committee Chairman, he skillfully handled competing interests and politics to pass a budget that actually led our government out of a deficit. He reached out to the Blue Dog Coalition that I was leading at the time, and gave us a voice in the process. His bipartisanship and leadership was a strong model that I’ve continued to follow.
“My heartfelt condolences go out to Sylvia and the family members.”
GOVERNOR MARK DAYTON
“Congressman Martin Sabo was a great political leader and an outstanding public servant. Important infrastructure projects throughout Minnesota exist because of Martin’s senior position on the House Appropriations Committee. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”
DFL CHAIRMAN KEN MARTIN
“The Minnesota DFL family is saddened to hear of the death of long-serving public servant former Congressman Martin Olav Sabo.
“First elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives when he was 22, at that time the youngest person ever elected to the Legislature, Sabo rose to Speaker of the House and went on to serving 28 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sabo grew to become a power-player in both state and national politics. He was widely respected in Washington, D.C. for his work to bring fiscal discipline to the federal government and in Minnesota for obtaining funding for transit, housing and veterans.
“Sabo’s quiet leadership style and dedication to his district are a true inspiration. He showed us the progress that can be made when Democrats and Republicans work across the aisle for the common good. I call on our elected officials to honor the memory of Martin Sabo by coming together to make progress on the issues that will support stronger families and build a stronger nation.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Sabo family.”
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR
“Martin Sabo was my friend and mentor as he was to so many who learned their politics the Martin Sabo way: do what is best for your district, stand up for the people you represent, and don’t forget to have some fun while you’re at it.
“At a time when our politics has become increasingly coarse, Martin knew how to be strong but civil, effective but kind. In his quiet Scandinavian way, he was a fierce progressive who got things done for his district and our state. And whether it was playing on the congressional softball team or bringing home the funding for a road or a housing project, Martin Sabo truly enjoyed his work.
“In my early days in politics, Congressman Sabo never minded if I tagged along with him to his Minnehaha Park picnics or senior citizen door knocks, and, even though my last name was twice as long as his, he agreed to do joint lawn signs when I first ran for county attorney. He was a veteran congressman and I was a political rookie, but he didn’t hesitate to help. He saw it as part of his job to help young people get started in politics. And Martin was so popular that those signs may have well been the reason I won (by less than nine votes per precinct!) that first election.
“Martin was an extraordinary and exemplary public servant who also stayed active and involved in his community after leaving office. He rarely missed a major gathering or a political event, especially if it involved his beloved Norway.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Sylvia and all of Martin’s family.”