Longtime Democratic legislator Sen. Dick Cohen announced Sunday he plans to call it quits after his term ends next year.

Cohen said in a letter to constituents and DFL Party officials that he would not be seeking re-election, citing pressing family commitments and undisclosed business opportunities that would require extensive travel. The letter took many by surprise, since Cohen has said in recent interviews that he planned to run again.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to represent the district in which I have lived all of my life,” he said in his letter.

Since 1987, Cohen, 69, has represented Senate District 64, which includes Highland Park, Macalester-Groveland, Crocus Hill, Merriam Park, Desnoyer Park, St. Anthony and parts of Hamline-Midway and West 7th Street areas of St. Paul. He chaired the Senate Finance Committee from 2003 to 2011. He was first elected to the Minnesota House in 1976 and served three terms.

The DFL Party released a statement citing Cohen’s advocacy for progressive causes, including gun control, arts, education and human services funding, judicial reform and racial and gender equity. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Cohen to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, where he served for eight years.

“Senator Cohen is an outstanding public servant,” Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said in a statement after Cohen’s announcement. “His expertise in state budget issues is irreplaceable and his insight will be sorely missed by both the Legislature and the citizens of Minnesota,” Bakk said.

Rep. Erin Murphy of St. Paul, the former House majority leader who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018, has announced that she would run against Cohen.

Dan Browning


Star Tribune staff writer Torey Van Oot contributed information for this story.