Skip to main content

After 7 years, Tom Bakk out as Senate DFL leader

His successor is Sen. Susan Kent of Woodbury.
Senators Tom Bakk and Susan Kent.

Democrats in the state senate have a new leader: Sen. Susan Kent.

The Woodbury resident was elected Minority Leader in a party meeting on Saturday, officially ousting the long-serving Sen. Tom Baak.

The vote signals a major shift away from the Iron Range brand of the DFL towards its more liberal Twin Cities counterpart, as Bakk — himself an Iron Ranger — was known to break with fellow Democrats on issues like gun control and mining.

It also represents a milestone for the DFL; as MPR's Tim Nelson notes, Kent is the first woman to lead the Senate DFL in party history:

"This is an important year, we have a lot of important issues facing Minnesotans and we are committed to working hard to deliver for those people in our communities and to have a successful election in November," Kent said following her election to the post, per the Star Tribune. 

The paper says senators debated the change in leadership "for nearly six hours in a closed-door meeting" in St. Paul, with some concerned about the shifting politics of the senate DFL and others concerned about losing one of their "most experienced negotiators and campaigners in leadership."

Iron Range journalist Aaron Brown describes the vote as a "Shakespearean" rebellion, with the changing character of the party making Bakk's ouster inevitable. 

Bakk first assumed control as senate majority leader in 2013, and since then has also served as minority Leader (his post at the time of the vote to remove him).

There's been little comment so far from the actors involved, but congratulations did come from DFL Rep. Melissa Horton, speaker of the Minnesota House:

Kent was first elected to the state legislature in 2012. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-11-28 at 6.57.31 AM

Police: Drunk-driver almost struck people watching parade in Bemidji

The man was arrested for DWI charges following the incident.

police tape

3 at trauma centers in critical condition after rural MN attack

Two victims and the alleged attacker are in critical condition.

grinch neighbor

Neighborhood 'grinch' sends letter to Burnsville family over holiday lights

A Burnsville family's holiday decorations were the subject of an anonymous complaint.


Anthropologie shutters Grand Avenue store, opening planned for Rosedale Center

The popular holiday shopping weekend marked the last for customers of the Grand Avenue store.

hospital, emergency room

Woman found on side of highway after hit-and-run

The 41-year-old was airlifted to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Jorden Nicole Borders

Charges: Minnesota woman tortured her kids, removed boy's blood

Warning: This story contains upsetting content.

first snow

Will narrow band of 6+ inches of snow hit Twin Cities Tuesday?

The NWS says a band of 6+ inches is looking likely. It's now a matter of where.


Siblings, ages 19 and 14, killed in crash on icy MN highway

The crash happened around 1:15 a.m. Saturday in Carlton County.

Nicholas Kraus

Man sentenced for fatally striking woman during Uptown protest

Nicholas Kraus, 36, of St. Paul drove into a protest in Uptown last year, killing Deona Marie Knajdek.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Fleeing suspect crashes into vehicle in Woodbury, 2 injured

The crash occurred Friday afternoon after a pursuit with Woodbury police.

Screen Shot 2022-11-26 at 2.34.44 PM

Yes, that's MN native Jenny Taft in a State Farm commercial

Jenny Taft got her broadcasting career started in Minneapolis in 2011.

crime scene tape - police tape

23-year-old woman critical after shooting in Plymouth

A 23-year-old woman was shot Friday night in Plymouth.


Gas pump

Group of House DFLers seeks support for 'gas tax holiday' this summer

The proposal has yet to gain full support from the party.

Screen Shot 2021-09-03 at 9.13.52 AM

DFL Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent stepping down, won't seek reelection

The announcement comes as Kent faces criticism over the party's handling of recent allegations of sexual harassment by a former staffer.

State Capitol.

'Disgusting': DFL senators say GOP failed to disclose COVID-19 outbreak

Dems say "NO ONE in the DFL nor non-partisan staff was told."

paul gazelka

'Cop out': Senate GOP leader under fire for cancelling police reform hearings

Senate Maj. Leader Paul Gazelka retracted support for such hearings.

Sen. Julia Coleman

'No one's business': State senator calls out attack on her pregnancy

Sen. Julia Coleman represents Minnesota's District 47.

Flickr - Minnesota state senate chamber - Matt Lewis

Calls for investigation after former DFL staffer details sexual harassment

Cynthia Callais provided her account to the Minnesota Reformer.

tom bakk_david tomassoni

2 Minnesota senators quit DFL Caucus to become independents

The Iron Range senators said this move will help them better serve their districts.