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GOP puts early target on Nolan with ad buys

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, DFL-Minn.

DULUTH, Minn. – The midterm campaign blitz is on — already.

Almost 14 months out from the 2018 midterm elections, the National Republican Congressional Committee has begun targeting Rep. Rick Nolan, DFL-Crosby, and several other Democratic U.S. representatives in swing districts across the country with what it is calling a “six-figure ad buy.”

The ads target national security, appear on YouTube and Facebook and are critical of Nolan's no vote against the Make America Secure Appropriations Act — a defense spending bill that ultimately passed the House, and also includes a provision to fund President Donald Trump's promised wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. The bill received scant Democratic support.

The Senate passed its own defense spending bill Monday and lawmakers will now go about the business of deciding on how much to appropriate.

The twin 30-second ads stress the threat of terrorism and also include the North Korean nuclear threat. The ads conclude by urging voters to contact Nolan’s office to voice their displeasure.

“Voting for funding to combat the war on terror seems like common sense, particularly when America has been subject to several domestic acts of terror,” said NRCC spokeswoman Maddie Anderson. “However, Rick Nolan put (minority leader) Nancy Pelosi over the safety of Minnesotans and voted no.”

Nolan spokesman Steve Johnson said the congressman is “deeply committed to providing all of the resources necessary to defend the American people and keep us safe. There is nothing partisan or political about that.”

The ad buy is digital-only and targets nine other districts throughout the country, including Minnesota’s 7th District, represented by Democrat Collin Peterson, and 1st District, represented by Democrat Tim Walz, who has said he will run for governor in 2018.

Nolan is serving his third term representing the 8th District, having defeated Republican challenger Stewart Mills by narrow margins in each of the past two elections. Last November, Nolan won even as Trump scored a decisive Republican win in the district in the presidential race.

While Mills remains undecided about a 2018 bid, Duluth police lieutenant and St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber already is campaigning in an effort to secure the Republican nomination.

With the ads, the NRCC is making no secret of its intent to accelerate the start of the election cycle, something Nolan has been critical of throughout his time in office.

In June, Nolan reintroduced a suite of legislation he has been pressing for years called the Restore Democracy Act. In it, he cites the need for Congress to have the power to implement and enforce limits on when money can be spent on campaign activities, and for other purposes.

Meanwhile, the NRCC fight to regain an 8th District seat it last held in 2011-13 with Chip Cravaack appears to have only just begun.

“He’s one of our top targets,” Anderson said of Nolan. “We won’t let up until November 2018.”

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