D.C. Dispatches is on the campaign trail in the 8th District this
week, profiling the DFL congressional candidates competing in next
week's primary election. Today is former congressman Rick Nolan.
Last of three articles
DULUTH, Minn. -- Rick Nolan considers himself a veteran of this
"running for Congress" thing, even if this is his first race in more
than 30 years.
He's 68-years-old, pulling 15-hour days, trying to convince
voters in the 8th Congressional District to give him back a job he
gave up in 1981. He routinely starts his days before sunrise,
cruising around the district from his home in Crosby, just outside
The former three-term member of Congress is the oldest DFLer
running in next week's primary election, and if he defeats Rep. Chip
Cravaack in November, he'd be the oldest member of the Minnesota
delegation, but he says he's not slowing down.
"There are times when I grow weary and tired," he said. "But the
minute I see people whose values I share and the enthusiasm for
public service and making a difference, I get energize and I just
keep on going."
Nolan was elected to Congress in 1974, the same year as James
Oberstar, whose old seat Nolan now seeks. He stayed in D.C. for
three terms, leaving Congress two years before his home, then in the
6th District, was redrawn into Oberstar's 8th.
Though all three DFL candidates have espoused traditional
Democratic positions, Nolan pitches himself as the most progressive
in the race, advocating a single-payer health-care plan, public
campaign financing, more rigid gun control laws and immediately
removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan: While campaigning, Nolan
reaches a crescendo when talking about "ending these wars of
"DFLers want to see the end of these wars of choice and the
nation building abroad, where it's not welcome, and the constant
expansion of the military empire. They want to see those ended and
they want to see that money spent rebuilding America," he said
"[Voters] want to see rules and regulations and the laws that gave
us good health, and good air and clean water and healthy, safe
working conditions. Those are the boilerplate, main issues."
Defending his time in business
Nolan said his political experience will serve as a backdrop to
his campaign message, but he spent a lot of time Thursday explaining
a second section of his resume: his time in the business community.
Candidate Tarryl Clark released her final campaign ad of the
primary season Wednesday night, a spot charging that Nolan took
"lavish" vacations and a swollen taxpayer-funded salary while
working at the Minnesota World Trade Center Corp. in the 1980s and
1990s. All the while, the ad says, the group failed to create any
jobs. The ad is a preview of a line of attack Republicans plan to
make if Nolan advances to the general election.
The WTC was a public-private initiative with the goal of helping
a collective of Minnesota businesses forge international
relationships. It launched in 1983, with Nolan as its governor-
appointed unpaid chairman, a position he held for four years (at
which point he was voted president and received a $70,000 salary,
"making him one of the highest paid public officials in the state,"
the Star Tribune reported in 1989). …