Tag Archives: Jim Oberstar

Retirement Mode Returns

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 13, 2018 — After a respite from House retirements for a little more than a week, yet another announcement came on Friday.

Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan (D), retiring. | Facebook

Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan (D), retiring. | Facebook

Veteran Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Crosby/ Duluth) made public a decision not to seek a fourth term from his rural northeastern swing CD, MN-8, becoming the 54th US representative not to stand for re-election and the 17th Democrat in this category.

Nolan’s retirement decision makes what was already a toss-up 2018 election campaign even more interesting. In the last two political contests, the congressman barely defeated Republican businessman Stewart Mills, 48-47 percent and 50.1 – 49.6 percent, respectively in 2014 and ’16, making MN-8 one of the most competitive districts in the country during that time span.

The presidential vote gives us a clue into the district’s transition. During the Obama years, the Democratic nominee/president, won here with 53-44 and 52-46 percent margins in 2008 (against John McCain) and 2012 (opposite Mitt Romney). But, in 2016, President Trump crushed Hillary Clinton with a 54-39 percent victory spread.

The Nolan retirement move marks the second time he is leaving the House after serving three consecutive terms. Originally elected back in 1974 from the 6th District, which was then and is today a more rural/suburban seat anchored in the northern Minneapolis-St. Paul region, the congressman chose not to seek re-election in 1980. He was out of elective politics for 32 years, until he returned to Congress in 2012 from the previously solid farm-labor Democratic district in Minnesota’s upper northeastern sector.

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Two Skewed Polls: NH / Minn.

NH-MN-cds

Harper Polling conducted two surveys for the National Republican Congressional Committee and found a pair of potential 2014 GOP challengers in excellent shape, but the polls appear to contain methodological flaws.

NH-1

According to Harper, former New Hampshire Congressman Frank Guinta (R), who is considering a comeback attempt in the state’s 1st CD, leads Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) 48-41 percent in their poll of 408 registered voters released July 17. In 2010, Guinta defeated Shea-Porter 54-42 percent after she had served two consecutive terms in Washington. Two years later, the former congresswoman returned the favor, reclaiming the seat 50-46 percent before an expanded turnout of some 120,000 more voters than during the mid-term election. In the presidential years, the 1st District voted twice for President Obama: 53-46 percent in 2008, and 50-49 percent in 2012.

Though New Hampshire voters do not register by political party, it is clear from the voting history that the 1st District leans more towards Democrats than Republicans. Yet, there is no disputing that it qualifies as a true swing district. Hence, Harper’s sample consisting of 40 percent Republicans, only 31 percent Democrats, and 29 percent Independents is slanted in the GOP’s favor. This is not to say that Guinta may be performing well in comparison to the congresswoman, particularly considering the two candidates’ see-saw history when facing each other, but a seven-point lead at this juncture of the campaign seems out of whack.

Still, it is data like this that could encourage Guinta to get back into the race. He is also reportedly considering a US Senate challenge to incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D), but such a move appears less likely as time progresses.
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