ALS claims the life of longtime Minnesota lawmaker

The Star Tribune reported that longtime Minnesota lawmaker and former hockey player David Tomassoni passed away this week of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

State senator remembered for having left an “enormous” legacy

The Independent state senator died on Thursday after a 30-year career representing a region in his state’s northwest known as the Iron Range. According to the paper,  Tomassoni’s diagnosis came in June of last year.

In addition to being known as an ardent defender of Minnesota’s mining industry, Tomassoni also advocated for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Fellow Independent state Sen. Tom Bakk also hails from the Iron Range, and the Tribune described him as being among “Tomassoni’s closest confidants in the Legislature.”

On Friday, Bakk sent an email to other lawmakers which praised his late colleague’s record, saying, “The legacy he leaves is enormous.”

“His selflessness in advocating for ALS research could not save his life but may save the lives of millions who follow in his footsteps,” Bakk went on to insist.

Bakk’s wife, Laura Bakk, was a longtime legislative assistant to Tomassoni, and she joined her husband in fondly remembering her former boss.

“We know everyone will miss him terribly,” the couple declared in their message, adding, “We are blessed to have visited him just hours before he passed.”

Tomassoni and Bakk left the Democratic Party in 2020

In 2020, Tomassoni and Tom Bakk made headlines when both announced that they would no longer caucus with Democrats and instead serve under a new Independent designation.

ABC 5 Eyewitness News reported that Tomassoni was subsequently made Senate president with support from Republican lawmakers.

“The Iron Range has provided the ore that has forged the steel that has made the bridges of America,” the news station quoted Tomassoni as saying at the time in a statement.

“If we expect to actually bridge the partisan divide, someone must take a proactive step to build such a bridge,” he continued. “I consider this to be a positive approach in an attempt to move away from the negative and partisan rhetoric while continuing to fully support our way of life on the Iron Range.”

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