Longtime Iron Range legislator Tom Rukavina, a state rep since 1987, has filed the paperwork needed to run for governor.
The DFLer from Virginia, Minn., tells the Minnesota Progressive Project that he’ll focus on jobs and education:
“I have passion — but in order to have passion, you have to have compassion. I think I have more compassion for working people than any other candidate. Coming from the Range, where people are losing their jobs — 18.5 percent unemployment Hibbing, 17 percent Virginia — We know all about recessions and losing jobs. Minnesota needs jobs, and Minnesota needs education.”
Says Project writer Joe Bodell:
He likely starts an exploratory campaign at a disadvantage relative to the candidates already running — contrary to his statement above, several candidates already have started lining up endorsements and significant staff presences. In addition, Rukavina’s natural base in northern Minnesota is likely to be the same base being rallied by State Sen. Tom Bakk, which could be a complication for one or both candidates. Rukavina said that he would “absolutely” abide by the DFL endorsement, so that means maximizing support from his delegate base is an absolute must if he is to continue past June.
But Rukavina is relatively well-known throughout the state for his colorful personality (he has a DUI to his credit), his strong stands on issues (he introduced a bill to ensure that all American flags sold in Minnesota are made in America) and his commitment, as he noted, “to the Farmer-Labor wing of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.” In a fractured field, a lot of things could happen between now and June 2010.