Nolan's departure leaves wide-open race for 8th - 2 local politicos mull run
With the retirement of Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, Minnesota's 8th District is an open race--a hotly contested swing-district in prior elections that looks to draw national attention going into the 2018 midterms.
With the retirement of Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, Minnesota's 8th District is an open race-a hotly contested swing-district in prior elections that looks to draw national attention going into the 2018 midterms.
During a phone interview, Nolan expressed confidence in the Democrats' chances in the district, despite the lack of a clear candidate to succeed him from his own party. He cited strong poll numbers as an indicator of future success.
Nolan was slated to face Leah Phifer, a former FBI analyst from Two Harbors, in the Democratic primary. Upon his retirement announcement, Phifer's campaign released a statement congratulating Nolan on his tenure and promising to carry on his legacy if elected to office.
"Congressman Nolan has been a champion for single payer healthcare and campaign finance reform, amongst many other progressive issues, for a very long time," stated Phifer in the news release. "I've been traveling the district the past eight months, hearing from many DFLers concerned about the future of our district. I look forward to uniting us around our core values of economic justice, human rights and environmental protections."
Former District 10B state Rep. Joe Radinovich, Nolan's campaign manager in 2016 and the current chief of staff for Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, said during a phone interview he was "strongly considering" running for Nolan's seat in 2018.
Current Republican frontrunner Pete Stauber, the St. Louis County commissioner and former Duluth police officer, said he wished Nolan well during the final months of his term and offered to help Nolan with any mutually agreed-upon issues.
State Rep. Jason Metsa, DFL-Virginia, is weighing a bid.
In a tweet, Stewart Mills III-a Brainerd lakes area Republican who ran against Nolan in 2016 and 2014-stated: "I have received numerous calls, emails, and messages. I am very seriously considering another run for U.S. Congress to represent Minnesota's 8th District. There is no timeline on when a decision might be made."
National Republican Congressional Committee Communications Director Matt Gorman touted Republican chances in the district with Nolan being absent this election season.
"Rick Nolan, too liberal and out of step with his deep red district, saved us the trouble of defeating him this fall. We currently have one of the strongest recruits in the country, Pete Stauber, in the race who's garnering strong local support," said Gorman in a statement.
Nolan didn't endorse any candidate, although he said there were a high number of potential Democratic candidates to replace him in the 8th District seat.