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State’s leaders mourn death of Jim Metzen

The death of former Minnesota Senate President Jim Metzen this week drew expressions of sadness and sympathy from the state’s top leaders.

Metzen’s legislative assistant Isaac Russell said Tuesday the senator died from cancer on Monday. The Democratic senator represented South St. Paul in the Legislature for more than four decades and retired in May. Metzen, 72, had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer since last year.

He was first elected to the House in 1974 and the Senate in 1986. He served as Senate president from 2003 to 2011.

Metzen was a former banker who said he tried to form friendships and alliances with Republicans as well as Democrats.

Metzen’s death drew statements of sadness Tuesday from state leaders and colleagues. Among them:

Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook: “I’ll always remember Jim for his wonderful personality, his jokes and his nicknames for everyone. Jim embodied the legislator that I think many of us strive to be like. He didn’t allow partisanship to cloud his judgement of somebody. If you were a good person, then you were well-respected by Jim. His work spanned more than four decades – and he represented the people of South St. Paul with great distinction. From his first days in the legislature, being elected to the House of Representatives in 1974 – Jim always had their backs, and I think we will not see another elected official like him in a very long time. Jim – your smile and your friendship will be greatly missed here at the Senate.”

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown: “South St. Paul lost a strong voice for their community last night in Senator Jim Metzen.  I’d like to extend my heartfelt condolences to his wife Sandie and their family. Today, I join my colleagues in the legislature who are mourning our loss and praying for his loved ones.”

Gov. Mark Dayton: “Senator Jim Metzen was a great DFL leader and a wonderful human being. He served well his Senate District and the State of Minnesota. I extend my deepest condolences to his wife Sandie, family, and many, many friends.”

Lt. Gov. Tina Smith: “Jim Metzen loved the Minnesota Senate, South St. Paul, hockey, and most of all his family. He represented his district with energy and commitment for 42 years. He was a great friend, and we will all miss him very much. I extend my deepest condolences to Sandie, Jim’s family and friends, and his Senate family who loved him so much.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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