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Two Iron Range DFLers already mulling bids for governor in 2010

VIRGINIA, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota's next gubernatorial election is three years away, but two Iron Range lawmakers are already considering running for governor in 2010.

State Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, and state Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, discussed their plans with the Mesabi Daily News.

Rukavina told the newspaper for a story published Sunday that he'll be 60 in 2010, and that might be the right time for a new opportunity.

"It's time for a Democrat in the governor's office. This governor doesn't care about working people, about people less fortunate. I think I could be that governor," Rukavina said. "I do. My record shows it and people realize that and remember that. I've always been a fighter for the working men and women of the state and always will be."

Bakk told the newspaper he'll make a final decision sometime next summer.

"I will spend a lot of time between now and next summer exploring a health care initiative that is doable in this state. We can't afford to just wait for the federal government," he said. "This is a good and important issue for the Democratic Party to figure out."

And how would fellow DFL lawmakers from the region deal with potential dueling Range candidacies?

House DFL Majority Leader Tony Sertich, of Chisholm, who practices juggling intraparty geographic and issue differences as a big part of his leadership job, is being diplomatic at this very early stage.

"I support both of them equally," he said with a smile and laugh.

Northeastern Minnesota is a traditional DFL stronghold, but the only Iron Ranger to elected to the governor's office was Rudy Perpich.