Rukavina annouces bid to re-enter politics

Former longtime Iron Range state legislator and DFL gubernatorial candidate Tom Rukavina is running for a seat on the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners, he announced Monday.

Tom Rukavina – MPR Photo / Derek Montgomery

Rukavina retired in 2012 after serving 26 years in the Minnesota House of Representatives, but for the past several months there has been speculation he would make a bid for the County Board.

“I miss working with people, I miss helping people, I like working a room,” Rukavina said after filing his election papers in Duluth Tuesday morning. Christina Hujanen of Tower is also running for the seat being vacated by retiring Ely commissioner Mike Forsman.

Rukavina was well known for his fiery speeches, humor and commitment to working people on the Iron Range. He’s running to represent the vast 4th District in St. Louis County, which stretches from the Canadian border to the eastern Iron Range to just north of Duluth. He said if elected, it would be the largest district he’s ever represented.

Since retiring, Rukavina has worked as a staff member for 8th District DFL Congressman Rick Nolan. He said he’d probably resign around July 4th when he begins to campaign in earnest. “I’m not going to put his foot in my mouth,” Rukavina said with a laugh. “I should be putting my own foot in my mouth.”

In an interview with MPR News in 2012, Rukavina said one of his proudest accomplishments was a bill requiring a mining facility to be kept in operating condition if it was forced to close on the Iron Range.

That happened in 2001 at LTV Steel in Hoyt Lakes, located in the county district he hopes to represent. Now PolyMet Mining hopes to re-use that facility to open the state’s first copper-nickel mine.