Longtime House Democrat Announces Retirement

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Representative Bruce Vento (D-MN) announced on Wednesday that he is suffering from lung cancer and will not seek another term in the House of Representatives.

Vento said in a statement released from Minnesota, "Recent medical exams have revealed that I have cancer. The type of lung cancer is malignant mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos. The cancer was detected in the first stages and is believed by my physicians to be treatable."

Vento said Mayo Clinic specialists have recommended an "aggressive" course of treatment for his lung cancer.

"Such treatment must be my first priority. It is a fight that I did not expect, but it is a challenge that I hope to win. During this treatment, I will continue to fulfill my congressional responsibilities. However, the additional demands of a re-election campaign are, at this time, too great and, as a result, I will not seek re-election to the US House of Representatives for the 107th Congress which will begin in January, 2001," Vento said.

Vento was first elected to the House in 1976 on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party ticket. That party is considered to be the Democratic Party of Minnesota. Vento is a public school teacher by trade. Before being elected to Congress, Vento served in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Vento's Fourth District is made up of Saint Paul, its northern suburbs, West Saint Paul and South Saint Paul, and stretches east to Lake Elmo and Woodbury.

Minnesota Republicans believe they have a chance of picking up Vento's seat in the November elections.

"I think this puts the seat in play. There is one candidate, Bernie Baumann, who is an executive with 3M. He has announced an exploratory committee. But I think with Congressman Vento's announcement today, you will see many other names possibly getting into the race," according to Randy Skoglund, Deputy Executive Director of the Minnesota Republican Party.

Vento is the seventh Democrat to announce his retirement from the House. Twenty-two Republicans thus far have announced their retirements at the end of the current term.