MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Rep. Bruce Vento, who abruptly announced he won't run again after discovering he has a rare form of lung cancer, said candidates should not consider it disrespectful to declare for his seat.
In a news release issued Saturday, Vento, D-Minn., said he was gratified by the outpouring of support that followed his announcement on Wednesday.
Some potential candidates have said they feel uncomfortable scrambling to get into the race on the heels of Vento's announced illness.
But Vento said he doesn't believe it's inappropriate for people to declare they want to run for his position -- as two hopefuls already have. He said he announced his retirement now to give candidates a chance to get in the race.
''I would be more concerned if candidates weren't interested,'' the statement said. ''My intent in making my decision at this time is to provide Democrats, Republicans and independents alike plenty of time to get in early -- enabling a spirited campaign of issues and ideas.''
Vento was elected in 1976 to the 4th Congressional District, which includes St. Paul and suburban Ramsey County, as well as West St. Paul and a part of Dakota County's northern suburbs.
The district has been controlled by Democrats since 1948, prompting several DFLers to consider entering the race.
State Rep. Betty McCollum of North St. Paul and St. Paul City Council member Chris Coleman have declared their candidacies.
Others considering include state Sens. Sandra Pappas and Richard Cohen, both of St. Paul; state Sen. Steve Novak of New Brighton; Rep. Michael Paymar of St. Paul; Ramsey County Board Chairman Rafael Ortega, St. Paul City Council member Jerry Blakey and former Rep. Howard Orenstein of St. Paul.
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