MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Longtime Minnesota lawmaker and iron ranger Tom Rukavina died Monday after a battle with leukemia. He was 68.

Rukavina, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, served as a state representative for 26 years, and most recently, served on the St. Louis County Board of Commissioners. He did not seek re-election to his post in November.

As a Virginia, Minnesota native, he was known for his fierce loyalty to the Iron Range and as a passionate debater on the Minnesota House floor.

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin released a statement in response to news of Rukavina’s passing.

“I’m terribly saddened to learn about the passing of my friend, former State Representative Tom Rukavina. As a longtime representative in the Minnesota Legislature, Tom was a bulldog for, not only his constituents on the Iron Range, but all of the working men and women in Minnesota. Tom Rukavina was known for his honesty, his authenticity, and his advocacy for those trying to build a better life for their families. Today Minnesota lost a one-of-a-kind individual who left a deep impression on everyone who knew him. My thoughts and best wishes are with his entire family,” Martin said.

Rukavina is survived by his wife and two children.