Tom Rukavina was born on August 23, 1950, in Virginia, Minnesota. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1968, then went on to Mesabi Range Community and Technical College where he received his AA in 1970. Then in 1972, he earned his BA (cum laude) in political science from the University of Minnesota Duluth. His work experience prior to being elected as a legislator includes legal assistant, truck driver and miner. He was first elected as a Representative to District 5A in 1986. He is currently in his 12th term. He currently chairs the Higher Education and Workforce Development Finance and Policy Division Committee. Another committee he is on is Capital Investment Finance Division. He is also currently on the Finance Committee and the Taxes Committee. Rukavina gained national attention for a bill he had introduced to ban the sale of foreign-made American flags in Minnesota. The bill has since passed into law. Tom Rukavina is single with two children. His home is still in Virginia, Minnesota. Here's another website about Rukavina, his values and what he stands for.
Here's how Tom Rukavina measures up on the questions that I think are so important in deciding who to vote for:
1. How much experience working in government does the candidate have? Tom Rukavina has 23 years of legislative experience. Other experience includes being a member of the Town Board of Pike Township as well as the School Board Chair in Virginia, Minnesota. He is a member of Minnesota Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.
2. Is the candidate electable? Does the candidate have state-wide name recognition? Tom Rukavina might be electable. He doesn't have the state-wide name recognition that some of the others have, but he's getting there. The thing about Rukavina is that everyone likes him. He's a good old Democrat. He's funny. When he adds humor to his speeches, everyone laughs. He's adorable. He reminds me of Lt. Colombo (Peter Falk), just in his mannerisms. Although Colombo seemed like an odd fellow, he was highly intelligent and very good at figuring things out. Rukavina will undoubtedly get the votes of much of the Iron Range. Probably the main reason Rukavina is electable is because all the working people can relate to him. He never forgot where he came from. The Iron Range is a unique assortment of people from various nationalities. Tom fits right in with the concept of diversity. He grew up with it and was raised to know that everyone is equal.
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? The only time I've ever heard Rukavina whine is when he's speaking at a forum or debate and he's told that his time is up and he has to sit down. He always says he doesn't want to and that he should get more time because he drove 250 miles to get there. Too funny. Rukavina does, however, have some ideas on how to fix Minnesota's budget. He wrote an article for the Star Tribune concerning this biggest of issues. He points out that economic development is linked to a quality workforce and, in turn, comes from investment in education. He also talks openly about the state budget with college students at Ridgewater. Click here to read about it. Here's a video where you can watch and listen as Rukavina talks about the budget and taxes. So yes, Rukavina has a plan and he's refreshingly honest about it.
4. Is the candidate popular with voters? He's obviously popular with Iron Range voters. He's in his 12th term at the legislature. This bodes well for him, since his District is typically conservative. When I first started blogging, I didn't find him all that popular with metro voters, probably because no one knew who he was. Now, however, I keep hearing about how he's growing on people. At least some of the reason is because he can make people laugh. In these very tough times, people need to laugh and smile. Rukavina also knows how to laugh at himself, which is endearing. I'm not sure that he has enough popularity to win the governorship. Probably not at this time, but that could change. I know a few people who say that will vote for him because his staff member Orrie talked them into it. How can anyone resist Orrie with his friendly smile and friendliness? Maybe Orrie should run for governor. He would win for sure!
5. Is there anything in the candidate's past that the opposition can use to turn voters against him or her? Yes, unfortunately there is. Rukavina had a DWI. His opponents will undoubtedly make much of it. I've even seen an interview where Bakk talks about it. I don't think that says much for Bakk, but to be honest it is a stubbed toe for Rukavina. The arrest took place in Mountain Iron, Minnesota. He was arrested for misdemeanor fourth-degree driving while intoxicated and failed a breathalyzer text. Rukavina issued a statement apologizing to his constituents and the people of Minnesota. Apparently the incident occurred in August of 2004. He once stated that almost every court case in St. Louis County involves drunk driving. Source: Los Angeles Times, December 30, 2002. A legislator, however, needs to always remember that he's in the public eye and should behave accordingly.
6. If the candidate has past legislative experience, what was his or her voting record like? See Tom Rukavina's voting record at Votetracker.
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? He must, or he would not have been an effective legislator for so many years. He has a good sense of humor and can poke fun at himself, which is a good way of lessening tensions to make way for a more relaxed atmosphere in which to work. Let's face it: if you can't get along with others, it becomes very difficult to get things done. Case in point: our Sometimes Current Governor Tim Pawlenty.
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. Most people I talk to see him as a funny guy who is fairly warm hearted. He's got the public image of a Good Old Democrat. I'm not sure that's what today's voters want, especially while Minnesota is in crisis. It appears that many people like Rukavina, but he doesn't seem to be most people's first choice for governor.
9. How much budgeting experience does the candidate have? Is it enough to combat the current budget crisis? Does the candidate thoroughly understand money?
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?
11. What are the true inner motives as to why the candidate wants to be the next governor of Minnesota? Watch the video to find out.
12. Will the candidate be able to win a debate against the opposition? Rukavina just might be able to win a debate. His weak point is that he doesn't always answer the question, but, like most politicians, skirts around it. If he's going to be refreshingly honest, he needs to answer each question the way it was asked. Most of the candidates seem to have a problem with this. On the other hand, I think he'll be able to stand up to any debating opponent.
13. Does the candidate like children and animals? It's difficult to find pictures of any of the candidates of them with children or animals. It's not like the old days where there were always pictures of candidates kissing babies and hugging children. The only candidate who has pictures of this nature available is Mark Dayton. In years gone by, whether or not a candidate liked children and animals was an indication of his character. Are those days gone? Let's not throw the proverbial baby out with the equally proverbial bathwater.
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? Of course Tom Rukavina is refreshingly honest. Didn't you hear him say so? Didn't you read it on his campaign literature? He could be more honest, though, by thoroughly answering the questions at the forums and debates instead of just going off on a tangent about something else. He's make a great Toastmaster, though, as doing this is totally acceptable as a way to answer a Table Topics question. I think the reason most politicians do this is because they're not sure what to answer. They don't want to offend any voters so they've developed a habit of pussyfooting around the point of the question. That may have worked at one time. With today's voters, though, and especially with this particular election, it won't work. Today's audience is intelligent and wants solid answers.
15. Does the candidate agree to be accountable to the people of Minnesota? In a roundabout way perhaps, but he hasn't come right out and said so like Dayton has. Unless I missed it.
16. Does the candidate have a team of advisors and commissioners in mind yet? I haven't seen or heard of an official list. I did hear Orrie say that Dayton could be the Lt. Governor. I replied, "or vice versa."
17. In the final analysis, which candidate do you really connect with and why? Tom Rukavina probably rates 4 or 5 on the list of candidates I can connect with. The main reason is that he's a contemporary of mine. He was born the same year I was and thus would remember some of the same things. Of course life on the Iron Range probably didn't have a lot in common with life down in the Cities. Maybe that's why Bob Dylan left. I do relate to Rukavina's sense of humor. As my readers know, I relate far better to a different candidate or two.
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.?