Bakk to depart Legislature after nearly 30 years

Published 8:50 am Friday, March 18, 2022

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Sen. Tom Bakk will retire at the end of the year, drawing a curtain on a political career that saw him become one of Democrats’ most powerful lawmakers before he eventually left the party.

Bakk announced Thursday he wouldn’t seek re-election, calling his time representing northern Minnesota at the Capitol “one of the greatest rewards of my life.”

Bakk, 67, of Cook, has been in the Legislature nearly 30 years, beginning with his election to the House in 1994. He led the House Democratic-Farmer-Labor caucus for nearly a decade and ran for governor as a Democrat in 2010.

But Bakk left the party in 2020, joining fellow DFL Sen. David Tomassoni of Chisholm in becoming independents who caucused with the Republicans in the majority.

The departures cost Democrats two seats on the Iron Range, a region once solidly in their control but which has grown steadily more conservative in recent years.