Tag Archives: Rep. Rick Nolan

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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Minnesota Becoming a Battleground

minnesota-congressional-districtsBy Jim Ellis

Jan. 22, 2018 — A new political poll is providing more evidence that Minnesota is very much in play for the coming election. Analysts were surprised in 2016 when President Trump came within one percentage point of topping Hillary Clinton in the state, but that pattern seems to be holding, at least according to this latest data.

The last time Minnesota voted Republican in a presidential race was to re-elect President Richard Nixon in 1972, thus making this state the most consistently Democratic domain in terms of presidential election victories. Since the days when Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy represented Minnesota in the Senate, Republicans have only elected four senators during that stretch of 70 years. Their record of electing governors is a bit better, with seven individuals becoming the state chief executive during the same seven-decade time span.

Building upon President Trump’s strong showing and two Democratic House members, Reps. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) and Rick Nolan (D-Crosby/Duluth), winning re-election with 50.3 and 50.2 percent, respectively, the new Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Minnesota Poll (released Jan. 17; 800 registered Minnesota voters) suggests that we could again see similarly close results later this year.

While five different pollsters have released national generic vote congressional data since the first of the year giving Democrats an advantage from five to 17 points, the Star Tribune is producing much different numbers for the Minnesota electorate. (Quinnipiac University appears to be the outlier here with polls showing Dem advantages of 11 and 17 points, the only pollster to see a double-digit margin; they were thought to be the outlier in the Virginia governor’s race, too, but ended up being closest to the final result.)

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Minnesota Already in High Gear

By Jim Ellis

April 10, 2017 — We’re 19 months from the next election, yet already major Minnesota political moves are being made. Though state law does not limit its governors to eight years in office, incumbent Mark Dayton (D) has already announced he will not seek a third term next year. His retirement decision is setting political musical chairs in motion.

Additionally, the Democratic Farm Labor Party, the state’s dominant political apparatus, was shaken in November as President Trump came within just 45,000 votes of winning the state and, in fact, carried five of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts. Together, these events have put much of the state’s liberal political establishment on edge.

Last week we reported that six-term Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) formally announced his gubernatorial campaign and immediately took positive steps toward becoming a major contender. Walz arranged for fellow Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) to announce his support, which has strategic value. So does former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak (D) expressing public support for Walz’s gubernatorial aspirations.

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Pressure Point Races

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 26, 2016 — It is widely believed that Republicans will keep the House majority in the Nov. 8 election, though Democrats will gain seats. Determining the party division change level is a point of conjecture, however.

Most believe Democrats will gain between 12-15 seats. More optimistic party strategists think they could top 20 districts. Taking the majority would require a net of more than 30 seats, because it also appears a small number of seats are poised to convert to the Republicans.

The Donald Trump presidential scenario continues to unfold, and while some polls actually show him creeping closer on the national popular vote track (Tied – IBD/TIPP, Oct. 18-23, 815 likely US voters; Trump +2 – Rasmussen Reports, Oct. 19-23, 1,500 likely US voters), the all-important state numbers continue to project Hillary Clinton leading in the critical states of Florida and Nevada, while the North Carolina numbers bounce about. Understanding that Trump needs all of the aforementioned states – not to mention each of the 23 normally Republican states, and he has trouble at least in Utah and Arizona – his victory prospects continue to dim daily.

The question looming over the down-ballot races is whether Republican turnout will be demoralized to the point of allowing Democrats to form a wave even though they are following an unpopular Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.

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Pivotal Minnesota

By Jim Ellis

May 10, 2016 — If the Democrats are to have any chance of making major gains in the 2016 House of Representatives elections, they must take advantage of seats in states like Minnesota where they traditionally perform well. Now, it appears the slates are virtually set for the North Star State’s fall elections.

The Republicans held their party endorsing convention over the weekend, which likely produced their congressional nominees. The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) held their convention at an earlier date.

While the DFL candidates are challenging for two of the state’s three Republican seats, the Minnesota GOP also has two potential conversion opportunities.

The weekend’s major convention fight came in Rep. John Kline’s (R-Burnsville) open 2nd District. There, radio talk show host and 1990 congressional candidate Jason Lewis (R) prevailed on the sixth ballot to win the party endorsement. Normally, the convention victory is tantamount to nomination but two of the losing candidates in this district, manufacturing executive Darlene Miller, who enjoys outgoing Rep. Kline’s endorsement, and former state Sen. John Howe look to force an Aug. 9 primary.

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Cold Minnesota’s Hot Races

Northern Minnesota features one of the coldest climates in the United States, but the congressional politics of the region are turning red hot. Two new polls suggest that upsets of Democratic incumbents are now possible in both northwestern District 7 and the commonly called Iron Range District (MN-8) in Minnesota’s northeastern sector.

A new Tarrance Group poll (Oct. 12-14; 300 likely MN-7 voters) gives Republican challenger Torrey Westrom, a state senator, a 44-43 percent slight lead over veteran Rep. Collin Peterson (D). This is in sharp contrast to a previous Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poll (Survey USA; Oct. 3-6; 545 likely MN-7 voters) that posted the veteran incumbent to a 50-41 percent advantage just 10 days ago.

Moving east, Survey USA yesterday released a new 8th District poll (Oct. 9-12; 555 likely MN-8 voters) that gives Republican challenger Stewart Mills a 47-39 percent lead over Rep. Rick Nolan (D). Previously, the last released data here, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee survey (Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research; Sept. 25-28; 405 likely voters), posted the incumbent to a similar, but reversed, 48-37 percent advantage.

Both parties are now spending heavily in each northern Minnesota district, with the National Republican Congressional Committee stinging Rep. Peterson personally over his reimbursed expenses Continue reading >

“Political Brad Pitt” Strikes Back

Earlier this week, the Politico news publication labeled Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN-8) as one of the five most endangered House incumbents nationally. While we might not go quite that far, it is clear that the Republicans have recruited a strong challenger who is doing things a bit differently.

Called the “Brad Pitt of politics” because of his slight resemblance to the famous actor and his longer hair, Stewart Mills is responding to a liberal House Majority PAC attack ad in a unique manner. Mills accuses the HM PAC, or “Rick Nolan’s DC friends” as he refers to them, of splicing together parts of a talk he delivered to make it appear that he was favoring major tax cuts for the wealthy, a segment of society to which he belongs. The local media investigated and largely supported his charges, thus several stations have refused to run the spot.

The Mills campaign has now launched its own clever spot against Nolan, deliberately splicing together disparate film tapes of the congressman that amusingly portray him as saying he is “putting an end to salmon, cheese, and catfish.”

The 8th District of Minnesota, commonly referred to as the “Iron Range District”, occupies all of the state’s northeastern sector. Its largest population center is Duluth-St. Louis County (population: 200,540) that sits on the western tip of Lake Continue reading >

Another Primary Today

Connecticut

The only race of interest on the Nutmeg State board today is the Republican gubernatorial primary. With Gov. Dan Malloy (D) registering poor job approval numbers and even trailing in some polls, the Republican nomination may be worth having even in this Democratic state. In 2010, former US Ambassador Tom Foley (R) came within 6,404 votes of defeating Malloy in the closest gubernatorial contest of the 2010 election cycle.

Amb. Foley returns for a re-match and is favored over state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R), the son of the late former Rep. Stewart McKinney (R-CT-4). McKinney is running a spirited campaign but will likely fall short. Should Foley win the nomination, the general election will be competitive.

All five incumbent House members are seeking re-election, and all are favorites to win re-election. The only moderately competitive race features a 2010 re-match of a 53-47 percent contest between Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT-4) and former state legislator Dan Debicella (R).

Minnesota

Sen. Al Franken’s (D) numbers have been relatively good as he works toward his first  Continue reading >

Money Shows Who the Real Challengers Are

The Federal Election Commission has finally published the 4th quarter 2013 House financial numbers, and through the reports we can begin to ascertain the challenger candidates who are going to put forth serious political efforts later this election year.

Some who were predicted to be strong contenders are proving such:

• In Arizona, former Air Force officer Martha McSally (R), who lost to Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ-2) by just under 2,500 votes in 2012, out-raised the congressman by just over $63,000 in the 4th quarter.

• Democratic former Colorado state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff outpaced incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) by $45,000. Both have posted highly impressive off-year financial numbers. Each  Continue reading >