ST. PAUL — Sen. Tom Bakk of Cook was not a politically happy man two years ago.
The DFL Party had been badly bruised in the November 2010 election and had lost the Senate majority for the first time in 38 years.
A big lesson was learned.
He played a major role in a 2012 statewide campaign aimed at regaining the Senate majority. Four seats needed to swing from GOP to DFL. But the DFL more than doubled what it needed and took back the majority, 39-28.
Bakk has since been chosen Senate majority leader. But he has tried to mute a bit the celebratory attitude within his caucus. He points out gains were made in traditional Republican Senate districts and those are fragile DFL seats.
He now wants to apply another lesson he learned while watching the Republican majority trying to govern in the Senate, and not grading out well.
“The only thing they cared about was not one more penny of revenue. Nothing else mattered. It was a helluva an agenda for the state,” Bakk said in a recent interview.
But he said DFLers could take a hit in the Senate in four years if they overreach with tax increases not properly balanced with needed budget cuts.
“We have been given the responsibility to prove to those Republicans who voted for us that they can trust. We need a very measured approach,” Bakk said.
The Cook DFLer is confident that the Senate majority leadership will not stumble and fall as the Republicans did two years ago.
“They (the leadership) pushed some horrible votes against personal beliefs of some of their members. They made a decision early on that all would stick together and there would be safety in that. They made a colossal error.
“They started having votes in caucus and the majority determined how they all would vote on the floor out of caucus,” Bakk said.
Republican legislators finished the session angry.
“They didn’t even caucus after the session. They went on the campaign trail that way. They didn’t know how to govern. They had no unity,” said Bakk, who added that will be another lesson learned when DFL senators take control in January.
“We were united to get the majority back. I have never seen our caucus so united. We put aside differences for the greater good. We must continue to do so,” he said.