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Minnesota Legislature

Lyndon Carlson, Minnesota’s longest-serving legislator, won't seek re-election

Rep. Lyndon Carlson, Sr., pictured speaking on the House Floor in 2019, is the longest-serving legislator in state history. Carlson announced Wednesday he will not seek re-election in 2020. Photo by Andrew VonBank

After nearly 50 years in the Legislature, Rep. Lyndon Carlson (DFL-Crystal) has announced he will retire from the House of Representatives when his current term ends in January 2021.

Carlson, now in his 24th term, is the longest-serving legislator in state history. First elected in 1972, he said the decision to not seek reelection in 2020 was made after much thought and conversation with his wife, Carole.

“The past 47 years have been exceptionally fulfilling,” Carlson said in a statement. “I have had the opportunity to be part of many important and lasting legislative accomplishments for the people of Minnesota.”

Carlson currently chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and said he intends to be an “active participant” in the 2020 session, which begins Feb. 11. He added that he would maintain his commitment to the residents of his district, 45A, and the people of Minnesota until his replacement takes office in 2021.

Carlson's Photo in the 68th Legislative Manual, from 1973. Photo courtesy of the Legislative Reference Library

Other past leadership positions include chairing the House education committee and serving as assistant minority leader.

WATCH 2018 interview with Carlson

“As a teacher, one of my main interests has been education. Investments in education at all levels continues to keep Minnesota a strong, vibrant state,” Carlson said. “Each session brought new opportunities and new ways to represent my constituents and to help residents across the state. As chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and the longest serving legislator in Minnesota history, I have played a role in many of the key issues in health care and prescription drugs, the environment, jobs and economic development, transportation, and education at all levels — in addition to many other issues.”

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) said Carlson has been a “valuable mentor and dedicated friend” to himself and many other legislators during his time in the House.

“He represents the best example of public service Minnesotans could ask for in an elected official,” Winkler said in a statement. “Representative Carlson played a vital role in the most difficult and the most uplifting moments in our state for the last half century. His knowledge, expertise, and kindness are irreplaceable for the Minnesota House of Representatives, and the House will just not be the same without him.” 

Carlson became the longest-serving lawmaker in the history of the Minnesota Legislature on Jan. 3, 2017. He took office in the 68th Legislative Session in January 1973 and has served in every session since, with the 91st Legislative Session his last.

Carlson’s nearly half-century of service in the House is followed in length by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, and two former members of the Senate — Sens. Anton J. Rockne and Carl Iverson.

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