DFL state Sen. Tom Bakk announced this morning that he's dropping out of the race for governor. Bakk made his announcement at the St. Louis County DFL Convention. His political director, Ellen Perrault confirmed the announcement.
Bakk said he's running for his state senate seat again and is not backing another gubernatorial candidate at this time...
Update: Here's the full release:
Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) announced at the St. Louis County DFL Convention in Duluth March 20 that he will end his bid for the DFL endorsement for governor.
"I've decided to continue to focus my energies on the most immediate needs of the state - namely balancing the state budget in as fair and sensible a way as possible and putting in place policies that will restart our stalled economy," Bakk said. "Running for the DFL endorsement for governor has been a great experience and I believe meeting so many people from across the state will make me a stronger legislator."
As he ends his bid for endorsement, Bakk said he hopes his campaign theme of "jobs, jobs, jobs" will stay at the forefront of the gubernatorial race.
"As a carpenter who ran out of unemployment in the 1980s, I understand the stress today's unemployed Minnesotans face," he said. "Every Friday in 2010, more than 200,000 Minnesotans received an unemployment check. A state record of 240,398 unemployment checks were issued January 9 and we've reached a point where almost 500 people a week are receiving their last check. Many people are losing their homes, health care or their businesses; this is unacceptable."
In addition to the issue of family security, Bakk focused on jobs because our state needs the revenue derived from income taxes. More than 70 percent of the current budget deficit is from a reduction in income tax collections. Until Minnesotans are back to work our state will not have the revenue necessary to invest in areas that will create future prosperity, such as education and health care.
"As a candidate I worked hard to have an honest conversation with citizens because, as chair of the Senate Tax Committee, I know we cannot raise taxes or cut spending enough to address the state's financial challenges," Bakk said. "We need a balanced approach that makes getting Minnesotans back to work the top priority, but also acknowledges the need for additional cuts and new revenue.
"Until people understand and accept that everyone must be part of the solution to solving the financial crisis there will not be the public support needed to get our state back on track."
Bakk had a number of milestones during his campaign, including: the release of a comprehensive jobs package and a call for a special session in 2009 to pass a bonding bill to get Minnesotans back to work; ending 2009 with the most cash on hand of any candidate for governor; earning the support of his colleagues and posting the second most superdelegates; winning the third most counties during the February precinct caucuses; and having the only plan to repay our schools the Governor's $1.2 billion unallotment cut.
"I want to especially thank my supporters and volunteers who have put in thousands of hours on the phones, working to spread my message of 'jobs, jobs, jobs,'" said Bakk. "Our campaign had the delegates to be a factor at the convention, but after much reflection I did not think we could reach the 60 percent needed for endorsement. Faced with a decision of spending the next month working to earn delegate support or focusing entirely on the immediate problems Minnesota is facing, I've chosen the latter and will focus on my work as chair of the Senate Tax Committee."
First elected to the Minnesota House in 1994, Bakk has served in the state Senate since 2002. Bakk's tentative plans are to seek the endorsement for a third term serving Senate Dist. 6. The endorsement will take place during the Congressional Dist. 8 convention May 1 in Hinckley.
Democrat Tom Bakk, who announced today that he's dropping his bid for governor, says he won't back another candidate for governor before April's DFL state party convention. He also says he's not interested in being on the ticket as a Lieutenant Governor candidate.
Bakk, who had a long shot of winning the DFL endorsement, said he realized that a crowded DFL field and a large number of undecided DFL delegates prompted him to focus on his work at the Legislature. He chairs the powerful Senate Taxes Committee and is working on a budget balancing bill, a jobs bill and another tax related bill at this time.
He also says no one should read anything into his meeting with Democrat Mark Dayton. He says he talked with several candidates this week including Tom Rukavina, John Marty and Paul Thissen.
Bakk also says he isn't fully sure what he'll do with the funds left over from his gubernatorial campaign. He says he'll probably use some of it to help his Democratic colleagues in the Minnesota Senate.
When asked if he's interested in the job as Senate Majority Leader, Bakk said "it's not up to me." The DFL Caucus elected DFL Senator Larry Pogemiller to Senate Majority Leader in 2006. Bakk lost the job by one vote.
You can listen to my full interview with Bakk here: Listen