After more than 26 years representing the Iron Range in the state House, DFL Rep. Tom Rukavina says he will not seek a 14th term this fall.
Rukavina announced his retirement in a letter Friday morning, the day after both chambers adjourned for the year. The Virginia lawmaker, one-time failed gubernatorial candidate and prolific orator did not give a retirement speech on the last day of session.
“I can’t emphasize enough how humbled I am to have the opportunity to serve my constituents for two-and-a-half decades. And I can’t tell you how honored I’ve been to have served with so many good people during my tenure,” Rukavina wrote in the letter, according to the Duluth News Tribune. “But all good things must come to an end and I’ve decide to move on.”
Rukavina cited the increasing partisan rancor at the Capitol as his reason for retiring. “I recall a kinder and gentler time here when even the most conservative members of our body still believed government could do good things for our people,” Rukavina wrote.
In a Friday end-of-session media briefing, House Speaker Kurt Zellers reacted to the news, saying it’s a “sad day” in Minnesota. “In 23 years in politics, I’ve never met anybody like Tom Rukavina,” he said. “I will miss him deeply.”
House DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen echoed that sentiment. “Minnesota will miss Tom Rukavina,” he said in a statement released Friday. “For more than two decades, Tom served as the populist conscience of the Minnesota legislature. Unwavering and unapologetic, he fought hard for the working people of Minnesota.”
In the letter, Rukavina did not say what he plans to do next.