Friday, December 11, 2009


Let's take a closer look at the DFL gubernatorial candidates. I'll take one candidate in each post. Let's do it alphebetically. Therefore the first one will be Tom Bakk.

Tom Bakk is a state senator from the Arrowhead. His counties are Carlton, Cook, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis. He was born on June 8, 1954, in Virginia, MN. He lists his religion as Lutheran. He graduated from Cook High School in 1972, then received his AA from Mesabi Community College and his BA in Business Administration and Labor-Management Relations from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. 

 Let's look at the questions I posted in a previous post and see how Tom Bakk fares.

1. How much experience working in government does the candidate have?  Tom Bakk was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in November 2002. Prior to that, he served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for four terms. He chaired the Senate Tax Committee in 2006. He was also on the Rules and Administration, Business, Industry and Jobs, and Environment, Energy and Budget committees. He was also appointed to various national committees, including the Midwestern Legislative Conference: Economic Development, Technology and Labor Committee and the National Conference of State Legislators: Labor and Workforce Development Committee. Most recently, he was appointed by Governor Pawlenty to sit on the state’s Workforce Development Council.

2. Is the candidate electable? Does the candidate have state-wide name recognition? Tom Bakk does not have the name recognition that some of the other candidates have. I don't think that he can get enough votes to win.

3. Does the candidate have viable ideas about how to fix the crisis that Minnesota is in? Does the candidate have an actual plan for tackling most of the issues, or does he/she only talk about one or two issues? Does the candidate whine that the new governor can't do everything so has to concentrate on one or two things, or does he/she appear eager to get right to work on a plan to solve all the most pressing issues? Tom Bakk's main mantra is "Jobs Jobs Jobs," which he purloined from Rudy Perpich. Whether he would actually be able to create a lot of new jobs would remain to be seen. He claims that creating new jobs will be the foundation of his administration if he is governor. He plans to accomplish this through investments and incentives. His idea is to make Minnesota a business friendly state. His website does not say how he will do any of these things. He needs to be more specific if he wants to stay in the game. Otherwise he has nothing new to add to what all the DFL candidates say. He wants to restore common sense in Minnesota's economic policies. He wants to give the state a strong economy. This is all so incredibly vague. I don't see a plan for action. He says he's committed to education. Again, this is very vague. If you look at his website under issues, you'll see more vague committments to various issues, but no plan is stated. The only partial plan I can find is that Bakk is proposing tax credits and other changes to encourage investment. He outlined details at a Capitol news conference Thursday, surrounded by unemployed workers.

4. Is the candidate popular with voters? He might be popular with a handful of voters, but in general, no, he's not. He doesn't have state-wide name recognition, either.

5. Is there anything in the candidate's past that the opposition can use to turn voters against him or her? The main thing is that he comes across as being an angry person. I'm not sure if it's just because his voice is gruff or because he really does have a lot of anger. This is one reason why he wasn't considered for the AFSCME endorsement. On the other hand, he is married with four children and seems to have a stable home life.

6. If the candidate has past legislative experience, what was his or her voting record like? It appears that he did not support the Legacy Amendment, not because of what it funds but because of the dangerous nature of creating funding structures in the state constitution. To find the bills of which Tom Bakk was the chief author, click here. Here are two bills that he passed that were thought noteworthy. Here are some search results for Bakk's bills. He voted to cut income taxes in 1999 and 2000, but later admitted that it was a mistake. At least he owns up to his mistakes.

7. Does the candidate have the type of personality that can get along with the legislators well enough to work with them and get things done? Does he or she have a history of getting along well with others? His outward personality doesn't make it seem as though he were the most congenial candidate by any means. On the other hand, he did get the Politician of the Year Award. The article states that he was highly respected and fair. So I suppose he must be able to work with other legislators in a manner that assures that he can get things done.

8. What is the public image of the candidate? How do others see him or her? Sometimes what you see is what you get; other times how you perceive a person is not at all how they really are. Tom Bakk's public image appears to be that of a distinguished and respected legislator in circles where he is known. Of course a great many voters have no idea who he is.

9. How much budgeting experience does the candidate have? Is it enough to combat the current budget crisis? Does the candidate thoroughly understand money? Tom Bakk seems good to go on this. After all, he'd have to know quite a bit to chair the Senate Tax Committee.

10. Does the candidate have a history of going out of his or her way to help others? Does the candidate truly care about the people of Minnesota, or is the candidate only out for himself or herself? I can't find anything on the internet where Bakk has gone out of his way to help those less fortunate. That doesn't mean there isn't anything; it just means that the information is not easily accessible. If anyone has any information regarding this question, please let me know and I'll update this post.

11. What are the true inner motives as to why the candidate wants to be the next governor of Minnesota? I can't find any altruistic reason why Bakk is running for governor except that he thinks he can do a good job and can get Minnesota out of its budget crisis.

12. Will the candidate be able to win a debate against the opposition? I think he has a more than average chance. His voice alone might intimidate the opposition.

13. Does the candidate like children and animals? Of all the pictures on Bakk's website, there are only two that have a child and one that has a dog. I won't even count the dog because it has a Bakk campaign sign around its neck. I see no sign anywhere that Bakk is overly enthusiastic about kids or animals. He does have four children of his own, so he must at least like them a little bit.

14. Does the candidate often say what he or she thinks the audience wants to hear or does he/she tell the truth no matter how unpopular that truth might be? Is the candidate honest with the audience or are there half-truths and embellishments? From what I can tell from attending many candidate forums and debates, Tom Bakk is honest and says what he thinks rather than what he thinks the audience wants to hear.

15. Does the candidate agree to be accountable to the people of Minnesota? I haven't heard him actually come right out and say so. It may very well be a given with him but there is no proof. Maybe he'll come and and say so now.

16. Does the candidate have a team of advisors and commissioners in mind yet? I'm sure he's thinking about it, but it appears that his main focus right now is actually winning the DFL endorsement. Time enough for appointees later. I haven't heard him mention any names regarding who he will appoint for the various roles.

17. In the final analysis, which candidate do you really connect with and why? I personally don't connect with Tom Bakk at all. To me, he seems unapproachable and frightening.

18. And last but not least, what has the candidate done in his/her career to help various communities of people, such as Seniors, Veterans, Children, Disabled, GLBT, etc.?  In the Senate, Tom Bakk voted against the ban on same-sex partnerships. He believes that there should be a legal distinction for committed couples and marriages should be left up to individual faiths and churches.

In his time in the Senate, Tom Bakk has supported many initiatives to support our veterans, including:
*Increasing funding to the veterans’ homes so they can provide high-quality care.
*Providing veterans preference when applying for open state employment positions.
*Allowing veterans to have a “veteran” designation on their drivers license upon the veteran's request. This designation will give Minnesota another way to keep a record of veterans in the state.
*Requiring the National Guard to establish a program of post-deployment health assessments for National Guard members called into active military service and deployed outside the state.
*Increasing funding to the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV). MACV works to provide assistance throughout Minnesota to positively motivate veterans and their families who are homeless or experiencing other life crises. Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans accomplishes its mission by providing services directly or in collaboration with other service agencies.
*Authorizing legislation authorizes and provides language for the issuance by the Commissioner of Public Safety of special gold star motor vehicle license plates for family members of military service personnel who have died in active military service.

The biggest mantra of Tom Bakk is that he knows how the common people feel because he himself was a working man (carpenter) for many years, carried a lunch bucket and belonged to a union.

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