Senator Tom Bakk visiting Superior National at Lutsen. File photo by Rhonda Silence
Rhonda Silence

Senator Tom Bakk on leaving the DFL Caucus

Citizens in Minnesota’s District 3 – which includes the entire North Shore and the Iron Range – woke up to some surprising news on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Despite winning reelection and appearing on the ballot as a Democrat, State Senator Tom Bakk has left the DFL Caucus. In the Nov. 3 election, Cook County voters overwhelmingly cast votes in support of Bakk, though at the time they thought he was running to represent the Minnesota DFL party.

Bakk made the move with Senator Dave Tomassoni of Chisholm to form a new Minnesota Senate Independent Caucus. This changes the make-up of the Senate caucuses, which will now be 34 seats for Republicans; 31 for the DFL and two Independent.

This raised many, many, questions. Senator Bakk spent nearly a half-hour with WTIP, explaining his decision. Bakk told WTIP he is the same person he has always been, calling himself a “lunch bucket Democrat,” whose mission is to represent the trade unions and working people.

He said the change in affiliation should benefit District 3, as it gives him a higher status in the committees on which he serves. One upcoming committee that Bakk said is extremely important is the committee that will oversee redistricting based on the 2020 census. As a representative of the DFL minority party, Bakk said he would not have much of a voice.

He also talked about his health issues and what sort of legacy he would like to leave for his children and grandchildren. He shared his thoughts on Polymet and Twin Metals, about President Trump, and about the rural versus metro divide in the DFL party.

Here’s Rhonda Silence and now-Independent Caucus Senator Tom Bakk.