Rukavina whips Bakk in SD-05 DFL convention

A highly placed source informs me that yesterday’s SD-05 DFL Convention in the heart of the Iron Range was a blowout. State Rep. Tom Rukavina took 16 delegates to fellow Iron Ranger Tom Bakk’s mere 3. Four delegates were elected as uncommitted.

Rukavina represents District 5A, which is the core of the Mesabi Iron Range’s active mining zone (Check out my interview with Ruk). Bakk represents District 6 (Here’s my interview with Bakk). That massive district includes a small part of the eastern Mesabi and the old Vermilion Iron Range by Ely and Babbitt, along with rest of the vast Arrowhead region and parts of Duluth.

So while SD-05 was most assuredly Rukavina’s home turf, the size of his victory has to be troubling to Bakk, particularly because Rukavina could be competitive, if not victorious, in the 6th as well. Rukavina’s home is just a few miles away from the 5/6 line and he’s a well known quantity in the Ely area.

Next week I’ll be attending my local Itasca County Unit convention in Bovey on the western Iron Range. There the remaining 12 “Iron Range” delegates will be pledged. Rukavina was the leading vote-getter in the Itasca County precinct caucus straw poll. Bakk finished third.

Meantime, a cursory glance at the totals coming out of the conventions around the state show that Rukavina is picking up a few delegates elsewhere, but only a few. He’ll be back in the pack at the state convention this April and will need both a plan and a miracle to break out.

ALSO: If you’re interested in the unique culture and politics of the Iron Range, check out my book “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range,” winner of the Northeastern Minnesota Book Award from UM-Duluth and the Friends of the Duluth Public Library.

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