Senate Democrats pick Bakk as leader
ST. PAUL -- Tom Bakk will be Minnesota Senate minority leader, in charge of Democrats in the chamber.
The northeast Minnesota senator takes over a caucus shrunk by Tuesday's election and out of the majority for the first time since legislative candidates were on partisan ballots. Republicans took control of the Legislature Tuesday; in the Senate the GOP rules by a 37-30 margin.
Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller earlier this week announced he was not interested in continuing to lead the caucus.
"While the election changed many things in St. Paul, it did not erase the historic challenges facing our state," said Sen. Bakk. "Our priority now is to work with the new governor and the incoming majority to grow jobs and forge a fair, responsible balanced budget."
The vote came Thursday behind closed doors in a St. Paul hotel and Bakk said that the smaller DFL caucus still will fight for party ideals.
"While there may be fewer of us now, our caucus will continue to fight hard for the things that are important to Minnesotans," Bakk said. "We can't balance the state's budget by dismantling our public school system, making a college degree unaffordable or closing down nursing homes. On Tuesday, nearly 56 percent of Minnesotans voted for a candidate for governor who was up front about the need to include new revenue -- along with substantial cuts -- to balance the budget. Our hope is to help our new governor point Minnesota in a direction that returns prosperity to people in every part of the state."
Bakk, 56, is serving his third Senate term after four House terms. He and his wife, Laura, have four children and live on Lake Vermilion with a Cook address. He is a former labor official and carpenter.
He has been the Senate Taxes Committee chairman and tried in the past to be majority leader.
Bakk ran for governor this year, but failed to get enough traction.
In the days following an election, legislative caucuses pick their leaders. All should be selected by Saturday afternoon.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.