Republicans Say DFL ‘Marching Left’ After Suburban Democrat Ousts Iron Ranger for Leadership Role


Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) defeated Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) for the role of Senate DFL minority leader during a Saturday meeting, a move Republicans think signals the party’s shift to the left.

Kent (pictured above) emerged victorious Saturday evening after the 32-member caucus met at the Carpenters Union Hall in St. Paul for nearly six hours. Bakk had served as leader of the Senate Democrats for seven years and often faced criticism for breaking with his caucus on the issues of gun control and mining. He spent eight years in the Minnesota House prior to his election to the Senate in 2002.

Kent was first elected to the Senate in 2012 but Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan thinks her leadership role will be short-lived. Republican Giuliani Stephens, the former mayor of Woodbury and a 2018 candidate for governor, announced a campaign for Kent’s seat in January.

“You know the Democrats are in trouble and scrambling when they oust leadership midstream,” Carnahan wrote on Twitter. “Susan Kent may be in leadership now, but it’ll be short-lived. She’ll be defeated on Nov. 3. Woodbury is ready for a change.”

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) said Kent’s ascent to power shows the Minnesota DFL “continues to careen way left.”

“Removing Tom Bakk as the Democrat minority leader only means their party continues to lurch towards socialism, anti-mining, anti-pipelines, and anti-jobs. Senate Republicans will continue to lead,” he said.

The Minnesota Republican Party said the Saturday vote proved Senate Democrats “are content with being out of touch with rural Minnesotans.”

“Minnesota DFL is marching left in a rapid fashion at all levels of government from Omar to the Minnesota Legislature. Minnesota families deserve better,” said the Republican Party.

Amy Koch, former Senate Republican majority leader, said the race between Kent and Stephens “just became the number one Senate race to watch.”


Some state representatives even suggested that it might be time for Bakk to switch parties.

“The last thread of common sense has just been ripped from the Democrats’ portion of legislative leadership,” said Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa). “Now Minnesota will see their radical socialist agenda running on all cylinders.”

House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) called Kent a “progressive champion” and thanked Bakk for his leadership.

Reactions to Bakk’s ouster continued to roll in throughout the evening Saturday.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Susan Kent” by Susan Kent.










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