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Bakk joins crowded DFL field in governor's race

Tom Bakk

Another Minnesota Democrat officially jumped into the 2010 governor's race on Sunday, making the field of candidates looking to succeed GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty even more crowded.

In announcing his candidacy, state Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook said job growth and job security would be top priorities.

"Too many Minnesotans are losing their jobs, homes and health insurance. I am determined to turn Minnesota around, restore balance, fairness and common sense to our economic policies," Bakk said in a news release.

Bakk was elected to the state Senate in 2002 and has served as chairman of the Senate Tax Committee since 2006. In the latest

legislative session, his committee endorsed a tax proposal that would have raised income taxes on most Minnesotans -- especially the highest wage earners -- to help erase the state's budget deficit.

In an interview with the Mesabi Daily News of Virginia, Bakk described himself as a "good old-fashioned jobs-Democrat." He said creating a strong business climate that also holds businesses accountable will help create more jobs.

"There is no magic to economic development. It's hard work. And that means it needs to be a high priority of a governor," Bakk said.

Pawlenty announced last week that he won't seek a third term. That made way for several Republicans to start exploring the possibility of a run. Even before Pawlenty bowed out, Bakk and a number of other high-profile Democrats had taken steps toward the 2010 race. The others are former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner, former state Sen. Steve Kelley, former House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, state Sen. John Marty and state Rep. Paul Thissen. House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher of Minneapolis and state Sen. Tarryl Clark of St. Cloud also are seen as potential candidates.

No Democrat has won a race for Minnesota governor since 1986.

Bakk said he has meetings and events planned throughout the month to raise his profile beyond Northeastern Minnesota and the halls of the state Capitol. He starts making the rounds this week with meetings with labor leaders and the Post-Bulletin newspaper in Rochester.

Bakk, who turns 55 today, lives on Lake Vermilion near Cook with his wife, Laura. They have four adult children.