Longtime Minnesota state Sen. Tom Bakk is retiring at the end of the current session.
Why it matters: Bakk, a former Senate DFL leader who recently left the party to caucus as an independent, is an influential powerbroker and dealmaker at the State Capitol.
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What he’s saying: The Cook independent, first elected to the Legislature in 1994, said he and his wife are looking forward to a new chapter of life that features “more soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, football, and hockey, enjoying more time to help and watch our grandchildren learn and grow.”
Flashback: Bakk left the Senate DFL to caucus as an independent in November 2020, months after he was voted out as caucus leader in favor of Sen. Susan Kent, a newer legislator from the suburbs.
Between the lines: The retirements of Bakk and Sen. David Tomassoni, another former Democrat-turned-independent, come amid a broader political realignment in Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range.
The intrigue: Former Senate GOP Leader Paul Gazelka had previously suggested Bakk would run for Senate as a Republican this year. But this move closes that door.
What’s next: As chair of the Capital Investment Committee, Bakk’s pre-retirement to-do list involves trying to broker a deal on another borrowing bill for public infrastructure and construction projects.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to add context about Bakk’s split with the Senate DFL.
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