|Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives|
from the 5A district
January 6, 1987 – January 7, 2013
|Preceded by||Dominic J. Elioff|
|Succeeded by||Jason Metsa (District 6B)|
|Born||August 23, 1950|
Virginia, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||January 7, 2019 (aged 68)|
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
|Alma mater||Mesabi Range Community and Technical College|
University of Minnesota Duluth
Thomas Rukavina (August 23, 1950 – January 7, 2019) was an American politician and a Democratic–Farmer–Labor (DFL) member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1987 to 2013. In 2010 he was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Minnesota, seeking the DFL nomination. He was a St. Louis County commissioner from 2015 to 2018.
Rukavina was born in Virginia, Minnesota, of Croatian and Italian descent, and graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in political science. He first held elected office in the 1970s on the Virginia school board and the Pike Town Board. Before becoming a full-time legislator, he worked in various positions, including at the Minntac taconite plant, as a logger and a naturalist at the Ironworld Discovery Center in Chisholm, Minnesota, and as an assistant director at Giants Ridge Ski Area.
Rukavina was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives for thirteen terms, serving from 1987 to 2013. He represented District 5A, which included the Mesabi Range in St. Louis County in northeastern Minnesota. In 2012, he announced he would not seek reelection, citing his frustration with the partisan atmosphere at the state Capitol.
In 2009, Rukavina opposed allowing the University of Minnesota to sell beer and wine only in premium seats at TCF Bank Stadium. He insisted that the University alter its policy to sell alcohol to all legal drinkers throughout the stadium, including its own students.
On July 23, 2009, Rukavina filed paperwork for an exploratory committee for Governor of Minnesota, making his candidacy official in early September at Bayfront Park in Duluth. He was later endorsed by Congressman Jim Oberstar. At the DFL state convention he dropped out of the race and endorsed Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
Rukavina was married to Jean and the couple had two children. Rukavina's daughter Ida works for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. He was friends with late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, who was flying to attend the funeral of Rukavina's father when his plane fatally crashed in October 2002.
In response to his death, Governor Tim Walz said: "There's folks who put their life into serving Minnesota, and Tom Rukavina was one of those". U.S. Senator Klobuchar said that: "Rukavina understood the dignity of hard work, and was a force for Iron Range workers and their families". Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison remembered Rukavina as a "friend, public servant, and a fierce defender of working people" on a statement on Twitter.
|Minnesota House of Representatives|
Dominic J. Elioff
| Member of the House of Representatives
for District 5A