Crystal’s Carlson, Longest-Serving Legislator in MN History, Gives Farewell Speech
Rep. Lyndon Carlson remembers his first election in 1972 vividly. He received 301 votes, 51.5 percent of the total.
“You remember that one better than the ones in between,” said Carlson.
Minnesota’s longest-serving legislator in history bid adieu to his fellow House colleagues Monday. He was given 24 minutes to speak, one for each term.
“It was really quite the dilemma,” said Carlson when he first took the mic on the House floor. “What do you say after you’ve had the tenure that was as long as what mine has been?”
The DFL lawmaker from Crystal announced earlier this year that he was retiring from political office. The former social studies teacher’s interest in politics took off when he volunteered as a field worker for the Hubert H. Humphrey presidential campaign in 1968. He credits his wife, Carole, for having, such a long career in politics.
“She has been instrumental in every one of my campaigns,” said Carlson about his wife.
Carlson became visibly choked up at the end of his speech.
“The one disappointment this afternoon,” he said, then pausing, “I would have loved for Carole to be here.”
Carlson says his wife was tending to important matters in northern Kentucky.
Carlson Says Politics Has Turned Away from Compromise.
Because of redistricting over the years, Carlson ended up representing six cities. He first lived in Brooklyn Center, but moved twice because of district boundary changes. His current House 45A District includes Crystal, New Hope and the eastern portion of Plymouth. Carlson, who turned 80 last month, made the decision last winter to step down after a lot of thought and conversation with his wife.
“The past 47 years have been exceptionally fulfilling,” he said at the time of his announcement. “I have had the opportunity to be part of many important and lasting legislative accomplishments for the people of Minnesota.”
A retired teacher and coach, Carlson says he made investments in education a priority during his tenure. Getting funding for all-day kindergarten in 2014 was very important to him, something he says ending up taking 25 years after he first broached the subject in the legislature. He spoke with CCX News about his proudest accomplishments in his nearly five decades of office.
As a former social studies teacher of 34 years, Carlson said used to teach politics as the art of compromise.
“I think that’s one of the big changes in my time,” said Carlson on the House floor. “Rather than being the art of compromise, it’s the art of having the votes. And I would like to go back to a time with the art of compromise.”
Carlson recently chaired the state’s powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the place where bills are referred to before eventually reaching the House floor. He’s among 14 House members, 10 DFLers and four Republicans, not seeking re-election. He has a hunch lawmakers won’t see the last of him. He expects a special session in June.
“This isn’t the day that those of us retiring are totally wrapping it up.”
House and Senate Members Also Stepping Down from their Seats
- Rep. Hunter Cantrell, DFL-Savage, first elected in 2018
- Rep. Alice Mann, DFL-Lakeville, first elected in 2018
- Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein, DFL-New Brighton, first elected in 2016
- Rep. Duane Sauke, DFL-Rochester, first elected in 2016
- Rep. Bob Vogel, R-Elko New Market, first elected in 2014
- Rep. John Considine, R-Mankato, first elected in 2014
- Rep. Ben Lien, R-Moorhead, first elected in 2012
- Rep. Laurie Halverson, DFL-Eagan, first elected in 2012
- Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, first elected in 2010
- Rep. Tim Mahoney, DFL-St. Paul, first elected in 1998;
- Rep. Bud Nornes, R-Fergus Falls; first elected in 1996
- Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, first elected in 1995
- Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis, first elected in 1986
- Sen. Paul Anderson, DFL-Plymouth, first elected in 2016
- Sen. Scott Jensen, DFL-Chaska, first elected in 2016
- Sen. Carolyn Laine, DFL-Columbia Heights, first elected to Senate in 2016
- Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, first elected to Senate in 1986