The state DFL party has endorsed former congressman Rick Nolan to oppose Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack in the state’s 8th Congressional District.
DFL party chair Ken Martin released a statement Saturday calling Nolan a proven leader who will work to create jobs. The other Democrats in the race include former state Sen. Tarryl Clark and former Duluth councilman Jeff Anderson. Clark already told supporters in March that she plans to take her campaign for the Democratic nomination directly to a summer primary. She made clear that she wouldn’t abide by the decision of the endorsing committee.
“It’s going to be a vigorous primary campaign with two primary opponents,” Nolan, a Brainerd native and rural Crosby resident, said in a phone interview following the endorsement announcement. “We won the endorsement (Saturday) and we’re going to win the primary in August.”
Nolan said in the 8th District, grassroots campaigning is important and he has people committed to helping and working on the campaign.
“I’m focusing on Chip Cravaack,” Nolan said. “He has not represented us well.”
Nolan said Cravaack voted to turn Medicare over to the insurance industry, give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and voted to cutoff funding for homeless veterans.
“He got 100 percent taxpayer paid college education at the Naval Academy, but voted to cut funding for Pell grants,” Nolan said.
The state Republican party responded to Nolan’s endorsement by saying he continues to promote failed policies and unpopular ideas. Cravaack upset longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar in the 2010 election.
Nolan said Cravaack doesn’t understand what’s important to the people in the 8th District and while there is no legal requirement to live in the district, there is a cultural and historical expectation for that. Nolan said as someone who was born and raised here he has a better feel for what people want and expect, because that is what he wants and expects in his own family and in his neighborhood. The perspective of the 8th District, Nolan said, is about tourism, mining, hunting, fishing and forestry and light manufacturing.
Nolan said he has a lifetime of experience as a volunteer, a business owner, and in elected office that have prepared him well for Washington D.C. As a former three-term congressman from the 6th District, should Nolan win the office, he’ll be considered in his fourth term and he said he’ll likely get a subcommittee chairmanship.
“We are really at a tipping point in this country, the wars, unemployment, growing inequality just aren’t sustainable,” Nolan said. “It’s a very important junction and point in time in our nation’s history and we need to get this country back on track and we need to do it now.”
Nolan said this country was so good to his generation. Growing up in Brainerd, his parents had jobs and good security. They didn’t have a lot of money but they had a roof over their heads, food on the table and an education.
“It’s that last part that is being lost and we have to turn that around,” Nolan said. “If you were willing to work hard in my generation the world was your oyster, but that’s just not true today.”
The country needs to stop nation building abroad where it’s not wanted and start rebuilding America and improve the quality of life here and stop incentives for manufacturers to move overseas, Nolan said. The direction Nolan said he believed the country needed to go was in rebuilding the middle class. He said the middle class is being obliterated while the rich get richer and poor get poorer. Tax breaks, Nolan said, are nice but they don’t stimulate business owners to hire.
“There is only one thing that encourages a smart business person to invest in equipment and put on more employees, it’s a demand for your product and having a strong middle class is what makes demand for product and the middle class is just getting crushed.”