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Brainerd native Rick Nolan smiled Tuesday as he discussed his intent to formally

Nolan makes bid for Congress official

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Rick Nolan, the former three-term congressman from the 6th District, is expected to make his bid for the 8th District official Wednesday in news conferences throughout the district.

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Born and raised in Brainerd, Nolan said Tuesday he wants to rebuild America’s middle class by restoring good-paying jobs so there’ll be a market for corporate America’s products. Creation of such a market, he said, will encourage businesses to invest in equipment and hiring.

“They need a market for their products and that’s what’s holding us back,” Nolan said. “In the past 20 years, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class is virtually eliminated. Until they (the middle class) have jobs ... they’re not going to buy.”

Nolan now lives near Crosslake and has a rural Crosby address. He has a financial interest in an Emily sawmill and pallet factory. Before returning to the Brainerd lakes area he was the head of the World Trade Center in St. Paul and lived in the United Arab Emirates where he advised businesses.

Gaining control of the federal deficit while at the same time improving America’s roads, sewers and rapid rail transit will also play a part in the U.S. economy’s recovery, he said.

“There’ll be no revitalization of the economy until the deficits get under control,” he said. “They’re simply unsustainable.”

The longtime DFLer proposes to tackle the deficit by eliminating tax cuts initiated by President George W. Bush, closing tax loopholes and ending “wars of choice” in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nolan also recommends pulling back our vast military that has “hundreds of thousands of troops and bases all over the globe.”

Al-Qaeda has been destroyed, Nolan said, and the government we’re supporting there is a corrupt one. Similarly, he said, drawing upon his 20 years of doing business in the Mideast, our presence in Pakistan, a nuclear power, is counterproductive. He said he didn’t denigrate the value of our intentions in the Mideast but maintained that our military presence is creating long-term problems in the region.

“There’s no threat to our national security,” he said. “They’re (the wars) unsustainable and unnecessary. 

“Sending U.S. troops and drones and bombing the hell out of them is not winning us any friends,” he said of U.S. involvement in Pakistan.

An opponent of the Vietnam War, Nolan said he would side with those representatives who have voted against funding wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The 67-year-old said he wants to preserve the benefits of Social Security and Medicare, referring to them as important social contracts with the American people. He said few programs had done as much to lift Americans out of poverty. Nolan said he opposed setting an older age at which people could qualify for those entitlement programs. He said he rejected the assumption that just because a lawyer or office worker could wait a few more years for Social Security that a construction worker or factory worker could do the same. Many of them, Nolan said, have bodies that are pretty beat up from their years on the job.

Aggressive enforcement against fraud abuse and the elimination of excessive payments to Medicare insurance providers could also yield savings, the candidate said. He also would like to see the government negotiate pharmaceutical prices for Part D of Medicare.

One change he would back is raising the cap on the income levels where a full payment must be made on Social Security taxes.

Nolan faulted incumbent Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn., for backing Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which he said would turn Medicare into a voucher system. He also criticized Cravaack’s votes which he said cut funding for homeless veterans, fuel assistance for the elderly and Pell Grants for college students.  

Wednesday’s schedule for Nolan’s first official day as a candidate has him speaking at news conferences in Hibbing, Duluth and St. Paul. He also plans stops at Isle and Little Falls before wrapping up his day with a rally at the Last Turn Saloon in Brainerd.

One change since Nolan’s congressional campaigns in the mid-1970s is the cost of political campaigns. Stuart Rothenberg of the Roll Call and the Rothenberg Political Report wrote that Nolan “spent a then-impressive $212,000 on his last re-election campaign but now agrees he’ll need to raise closer to $3 million than $2 million to win.”

Nolan said then-state Sen. Tarryl Clark raised about $5 million in her losing 6th District campaign with Rep. Michele Bachmann raising about $13 million. Throw in an estimated extra couple of million dollars from private expenditures, he said, and that was close to a $20 million race.

 It’s been three months since Nolan publicly announced his interest in running for Congress and during that time he said he has criss-crossed the district’s 18 counties, talking to county chairs and party activists.

Nolan said he would abide by the DFL Party’s endorsement system and thought that he stacked up “real well” with the DFL’s two other announced candidates, Clark, and Duluth City Council member Jeff Anderson.

Although he never imagined he would seek another term in Congress at this stage in his life, Nolan said the issues are too compelling and his interest in the future of young people is too strong for him to sit on the sidelines.

Nolan was confident of his chances in this race. He said he found people who wanted him to be the DFL’s candidate and while it remains to be seen whether he’s too old to win he’s “too old for a fool’s errand.”

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at mike.orourke@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5860.

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Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson joined the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2010 and works as a online reporter, content editor and staff writer. She is a world traveler, accused idealist and California native now braving the winters of Central Minnesota. She believes in the power of human resolve and hopes to be part of something that makes history by bringing an end to injustice in the world. Sarah has worked as a criminal background researcher, high school civics teacher, grant writer, and contributing writer with Causecast.org — tackling every issue from global poverty to bio-degradable bicycles. Her favorite thing about living in Minnesota is July. Sarah left the Brainerd Dispatch in April 2014.
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