Labor organizer Metsa to seek Rukavina seat

Jason Metsa, field coordinator for the North East Area Labor Council on the Iron Range, has announced that he will seek the House 6B seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Pike Township).

Metsa, 31, is a fifth-generation Iron Ranger with roots in the Angora and Nashwauk area. His family moved to Rochester for part of his childhood during the economic collapse in the ’80s, but he returned to graduate from Babbitt-Embarrass in the late ’90s.

Metsa began organizing a slew of Range political campaigns in 2006, working for various candidates and the DFL before being hired to coordinate political operations for the influential Labor Council last year.

“A lot of young people have had to move away [from the Range] to find jobs,” said Metsa. “We need to create jobs for them here.”

He told me he’ll focus on helping advance nonferrous mining development in the area. He said he believes that the future of the Range depends on people getting involved in their communities.

“Local politics is where stuff happens,” said Metsa. “City councils, school boards, county boards, state House and Senate; these are the offices where people can make a difference.”

Metsa was campaign manager for Rep. Carly Melin’s successful bid in the 2011 special election to replace former Rep. and current IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich. That was a well-run, expensive (by Range standards) campaign against quality candidates in both the primary and general election.

Metsa will compete against DFLer Lorrie Janatopoulos in Saturday’s endorsement contest in Hibbing. I disclose that I’ve worked with both of them on past campaigns and community activities. Plans to cover this race were detailed here earlier this week. More candidates could yet emerge, though Metsa vs. Janatopoulos would be a very interesting, likely very competitive endorsement and/or primary race.


  1. Metsa sent his press release the moment I completed this post after last night’s phone chat. It is as follows:

    Jason Metsa Announces for State Representative

    Virginia – Jason Metsa, a fifth generation Iron Ranger, announced his candidacy for state representative for the open 6B seat vacated by Iron Range champion Tom Rukavina.

    “Integrity, hard work, honesty, and family values are what built the Range. They are values I will take with me to St. Paul to represent this region,” said Metsa.

    “I look forward to serving the communities that my family has called home for five generations. We have a rich history that our previous legislators have fought hard to preserve. I will continue that fight down at the capitol. We are working people; proud to have helped built the union movement, the first skyscrapers, and the battleships and planes that won WWII,” Metsa added.

    Former State Representative Joe Begich said, “I have known Jason Metsa for many years now. He has worked tirelessly since the day I met him on issues important to our area. He is and will continue to be a passionate advocate for our unions, DFL traditions, and working families. I am glad that he decided to run, happy to call him a friend, and proud to be supporting him.”

    Jason Metsa’s Campaign Chair, Tina Mattson from Biwabik Township, said, “I’m excited that Jason Metsa is running for state representative. We need a young person to represent the generations living on the Iron Range. I’m a nurse and a mother, and I know that Jason Metsa will support health care for everybody, and work hard to secure funding for our schools.”

    Jason Metsa currently works as the Field Coordinator for the North East Area Labor Council representing the seven counties of northeastern Minnesota. He has been active in his community, serving on the Range Mental Health Center Advisory Board. He is a homeowner in Virginia where he resides.

  2. Here comes another 26 years of same ole, same ole insanity for the Range. As Albert defined it – “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Oh well..

  3. Talk about same ol’ same ol’-“integrity for generations”, his grandpa was Virginia’s mayor, while working, raising a family and keeping his full time employment selling insurance. What has the kid done? Not too much. He has gotten the endorsement of a super pac from California who must be paying for his over-sized, abundant signs cropping up like mushrooms all over the area. I feel someone that young, with little real life experience has no business even being CONSIDERED for such responsibility. For Rukavina to endorse him makes me very disappointed in Tommy’s judgement. Must be the pressure from above, aka super pac. Let the kid work in a real job for a decade, get elected to a city council, raise a family, etc…….HE IS NOT QUALIFIED!!!! I don’t care how “nice” he is. Union or political organizers, if that is their only life experience have a long way to go to being an adult.

  4. I think people running for office should get the endorsement of parties and votes of workers after they have lived a full life, with responsibilities outside of the union, public sector world. Those worlds are not most folk’s reality. Jason is a union organizer-period. I believe he was born after his grandfather Elder was no longer the mayor of Virgina. Elder was a successful businessman who raised a family while performing his part time duty as mayor. Jason has chosen “generations of integrity” as his campaign slogan. Excuse me Jason, you have to work for a long time in the real world and have some responsibility before you can represent me or other workers and their famlilies! A union organizer is not proven at ANYTHING if that is your only claim to fame. Get a job, work in a business, either for yourself or someone else, run for city council or something first. Get some skin in the real game, and then in 20 or so years, think about running again.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.