Senator Thomas M. Bakk was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in November 2002 to serve Senate District 3, which includes portions of Cook, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties in the northeastern part of Minnesota. Prior to his election to the Senate, Bakk served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for four terms.
In 2009, Bakk seriously explored a run for Governor of Minnesota. That same year, he retired from his job as a labor representative for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. Working as a journeyman carpenter for 11 years, he was elected to lead his union in 1987—a position he held until his retirement. Since then he has served on many boards and organizations that seek to further the natural resource-based economy in Northern Minnesota as well as the quality of life there. Bakk is the past president of the Iron Range Building Trades, a former volunteer firefighter, and has also been appointed to various national committees including the Midwestern Legislative Conference: Economic Development, Technology, and Labor Committee, and the National Conference of State Legislators: standing committee on Budget and Revenue, and the Labor and Workforce Development Committee. He was previously a member of the Minnesota Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council and was also appointed by Governor Pawlenty to serve on the state’s Workforce Development Council.
A legislator since 1994, Bakk sees improving Minnesota’s quality of life and improving the standard of living for workers and their families as a key reason for serving in the Legislature. He has worked diligently to bring more value-added jobs and enhance tourism opportunities in northern Minnesota and is committed to continuing those efforts. Senator Bakk served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Taxes from 2007-2011 and continues to serve on the committee. In 2013, he became Majority Leader after having served as Minority Leader for two years. He was appointed, again, by his colleagues to serve as Minority Leader in 2017-2020.
Bakk earned an associates degree at Mesabi Community College and a baccalaureate degree in business administration at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He resides on Lake Vermilion near Cook, Minnesota with his wife, Laura. They have four adult children and eight grandchildren. Bakk is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling. He also enjoys spending time at his wilderness cabin located in Ontario, Canada.