MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, who served northeastern Minnesota for 36 years, has died. He was 79.

A statement released by his family says Oberstar died Saturday morning in his sleep. No cause of death was provided.

Oberstar, a Democrat, was elected to Congress in 1974 and served 18 terms before he narrowly lost to GOP challenger Chip Cravaack in 2010.

After his defeat, he said he loved serving northeastern Minnesota. His district included Duluth and the Iron Range.

He was the state's longest-serving member of Congress, and became chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in 2006.