IRON RANGE — Marjorie Holmstrom-Sabo announced on Wednesday that she made the “difficult decision to suspend” her race for Eighth Congressional District in northeastern Minnesota, ending a campaign in which she was one of two DFLers seeking to usurp Republican Representative Pete Stauber from office.
“It has become evident that the time and resource demands of a congressional campaign and the requirements of my life as a working parent are not compatible,” Holmstrom-Sabo said in a statement released mid-week, on the eve of Thanksgiving Day to the Hibbing Daily Tribune. “Though my reasons for running are public, and have not changed, the private needs of my family must take priority for a time. If I must choose between pursuing a seat in Congress or the people I love who depend on me — the obvious choice is people first.”
It was in early October when Holmstrom-Sabo stood beside her two teenagers on the northside of the Hull Rust Mahoning Mine View in Hibbing. She told a small crowd that she was running as part of a group called the Iron Range Grassroots Progressives, with the hopes of garnering an endorsement from the DFL, for the congressional seat in the upcoming 2020 election.
“I’m running because I can’t stand politics,” Holmstrom-Sabo said at the time. “...Sometimes you have to turn and face the things you hate to make it better.”
Born in Hibbing, Holmstrom-Sabo described herself as “a Range kid all the way through.” She is the daughter of a longtime laborer at U.S. Steel MinnTac who graduated from Nashwauk-Keewatin High School in 1992. She earned a B.A. in scientific and technical communication from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 1997. She worked in software engineering, web development, education, mortgage and online retail servicing and operations management.
During her campaign launch, Holmstrom-Sabo told the HDT that she lived in St. Paul, because a custody agreement with her ex-husband mandated that they live 30 miles from one another. The residency requirements for the congressional race has the unique rule of not having to live in the district to be elected to serve that district. She said she was remarried and was “actively searching to find housing on the Range,” in part to be closer to her mother and also to be living among district voters.
This week, Holmstrom-Sabo’s communication director told the HDT that she still resides in St. Paul.
“Though I feel disappointment at suspending my campaign so soon after it started, I know that this is not the end of my path in political activism,” Holmstrom-Sabo said in her statement. “I remain convinced that we need voices that will speak out for the needs of working-class folks, advocate for affordable and accessible health care, and push for rural broadband to expand economic diversity and educational opportunity for all.”
With Holmstrom-Sabo leaving the race, DFLers are now supporting their lone official candidate, Baxter-based healthcare advocate Quinn Nystrom, in hopes that the party can win back the longtime Democratic seat from Stauber, of Hermantown. Soren Sorensen, of Bemidji, told the HDT that he would soon launch his own campaign in hopes to represent Democrats in the race.
Last week, retired Eighth Congressional District Representative Rick Nolan announced his endorsement of Nystrom, an ally in the DFL. “I’ve known Quinn Nystrom for years, seen her experience at all levels of government first hand,” Nolan said in a statement. “She’s effective, she knows how to get things done and that’s why I’m endorsing her campaign for Congress. Quinn has led the charge to lower the cost of insulin for Minnesotans, she’s ready to serve us now in Washington.”
Previously, Nystrom received applause from former Senator Al Franken, who praised her campaign during a DFL fundraiser in the Crown Ballroom in Hibbing. Nystrom spoke at that event in mid-October before State Sen. David Tomassoni and State Rep. Julie Sandstede, both DFLers from the Iron Range Delegation.
Holmstrom-Sabo’s Progressive-styled politics differed from Nystrom and she appeared more vocal from the start in separating herself from her political opposition. “I adore her,” she said of Nystrom when launching her campaign. “She’s deeply passionate and knowledgeable.” Her thoughts on Stauber were not as warm. “I feel like he supports profits. Big business. Big banks. He supports policy that doesn’t support people.”
Stauber had called the presidential impeachment inquiry “irresponsible” and Nystrom did not offer her opinions. But Holmstrom-Sabo provided her own take on the matter. “I do not like him. I look to his past history in being a real estate and see him as being shady. I support the impeachment inquiry. We need to know what happened. We need to have accountability.”
Holmstrom-Sabo’s departure from the race comes at a time when there has been tension within the party concerning labor and mining-related issues. She said the party had “neglected the small rural communities to their detriment” and “that’s how the Republicans were able to flip the House seat.”
This week, Holmstrom-Sabo offered a message of political harmony, saying that former representatives, John Blatnik, James Oberstar and Nolan had “fought for the hard-working people of Minnesota and the nation.” She continued, “They weren’t always ‘nice,’ as our current congressman is labeled, but they were effective, influential and got the job done. They were scrappy. Their past work was an inspiration for me, and should be for the person who aspires to be our next Representative in Congress.”
Holmstrom-Sabo finished, “This is not the end of my journey. This is the beginning. And I’m scrappy.”