The Kenyon Republican said he had been getting plenty of calls from people urging him to run for the open seat in 2016.
"We thought about it — enough to listen to people who called and make a couple of calls," he said.
A week ago, Sviggum said he sat down with his wife Debbie and had "a long talk on the couch." The couple decided against a congressional run.
"I just didn't want to be on the phone dialing for dollars the rest of my life," he said.
Earlier this month, 2nd District GOP Rep. John Kline announced he would not seek an eighth term in Congress. On Tuesday morning, former Red Wing GOP Sen. John Howe announced he was running for the seat. One other Republican, David Gerson, is also running. Two Democrats are also vying for the seat — former St. Jude executive Angie Craig and Dr. Mary Lawrence.
The 2nd Congressional District stretches from the southern Twin Cities suburbs to Goodhue and Wabasha counties. It is believed to be a swing district, setting the stage for an expensive election battle between Republicans and Democrats.
Sviggum said he expects at least $3 million would need to be raised for the raise. On top of that, national Republican and Democratic groups are also expected to flood the district with cash. He said he became convinced running for Congress would require him to spend most of his time on the phone making fundraising calls. That's different than running for a legislative seat, which involves plenty of time getting out and meeting people in the community.
Sviggum is far from the first candidate weighing a possible run for the seat who opted against it. Several Republicans have opted not to run for the open seat including Mazeppa Rep. Steve Drazkowski, former Minnesota First Lady Mary Pawlenty, 2014 U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden, Prior Lake Sen. Eric Pratt and Former Lakeville Sen. Dave Thompson. South St. Paul DFL Rep. Rick Hansen has also decided against a run.
Sviggum served in the Minnesota Legislature for 29 years before being appointed commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He briefly served on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents but ended up resigning under pressure after taking a job in 2012 as communications director for the Senate Republican caucus. He is currently teaching at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs.