SAINT PAUL, MN— Today, Representative Paul Thissen announced that he will not seek reelection to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2018. He is currently seeking the DFL endorsement to be Governor of Minnesota.
“It has been an incredible honor to serve my constituents and the people of Minnesota for the past fifteen years,” Representative Thissen said. “Together we experienced some serious challenges including the worst economic downturn in generations from which many Minnesota families have still not fully recovered and we joined together to win some incredible victories for every day Minnesotans. Above all, I had the opportunity over the last fifteen years to meet and learn from the most amazing people all across this state – people who step up every day to make their communities and their state better. We are so blessed to live in a state with so many brilliant, creative, committed people.”
Representative Thissen was first elected in 2002. He served as Chair of the Health and Human Service Committee from 2007-2010. His DFL colleagues chose him as leader of the Minnesota House Democrats from 2011-2016, the longest serving DFL House leader since Martin Olav Sabo in the 1970s. Thissen also served as Minnesota House Speaker in 2013 and 2014, a biennium which many consider to be among the most progressive and productive in Minnesota history. During those two years, Minnesota structurally balanced its budget for the first time in a decade; made the first meaningful investment in early childhood education in Minnesota history, including enactment of all-day, every day kindergarten; froze tuition at all public universities for the only time in state history; increased the minimum wage and passed the Women’s Economic Security Act; enacted a nation-leading solar standard; initiated the rural broadband grant program; passed the Minnesota Dream Act; expanded health care to hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans; and passed Marriage Equality.
“My fundamental belief is that the only measure of success in politics is getting things done that matter to every day Minnesotans,” Thissen said of those sessions. “We showed the nation what good progressive government looks like and we once again made Minnesota a state that works.”
Politics in Minnesota named him Legislator of the Year in 2012 and he has received recognition for his legislative work from groups as diverse as the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota Nurses Association, the Children’s Defense Fund, ARC of Minnesota, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, Conservation Minnesota and the Farmer’s Union.
“My fifteen years in the State House has confirmed for me over and over again that Minnesota is a special place and an extraordinary state, a place that should lead –and that is more important now than ever,” Rep. Thissen reflected. “The challenges we face ahead are not simple or easy. The existential threats of climate change on a global scale, the economic insecurity faced by too many of our neighbors, and the deeply rooted racial inequities in Minnesota top my list. But underlying those challenges and many others is a power structure that is too closely held by too few people. The concentration of political and economic power of course has serious and well-documented adverse ramifications for the quality of life and prosperity of too many Minnesotans. But as significant is the fact that the distortions caused by that concentration of power means that there are too many lives and too many people that we no longer see at all and that we can ignore too easily. In this state which has an extraordinarily bright future and has so much to celebrate, there is also much brokenness, much trauma in individual lives. If I have been radicalized in any way in my time of serving in the Minnesota House, it has been in the struggle to figure out what we do with that messiness of life while making serious public policy decisions. To actually see and consider the lives of real people – especially those whose voices are often not heard - and to govern with both mercy and justice.”