GOP already targeting 8th District seat for 2018
For some people, it's never early enough for the next election cycle. "I don't think it's too soon," said Justin Perpich, chair of the 8th District DFL, in response to Politico's report Wednesday that listed Rep. Rick Nolan, DFL-Crosby, as one of...
For some people, it's never early enough for the next election cycle.
"I don't think it's too soon," said Justin Perpich, chair of the 8th District DFL, in response to Politico's report Wednesday that listed Rep. Rick Nolan, DFL-Crosby, as one of 36 congressional Democrats being targeted by Republicans in 2018. "Maybe it's just me and my love for politics, but I think people want to be involved."
The Politico report cited a National Republican Congressional Committee target list that the political website wrote was "particularly focused on blue-collar parts of the country where President Donald Trump is popular."
Trump dominated Minnesota's 8th District, winning about 54 percent of the vote to 38 for Hillary Clinton in November. But Nolan, a three-time incumbent, narrowly beat Republican challenger Stewart Mills for a second straight election in what has biennially become one of the most expensive races in the country.
"If Trump can carry the 8th and Rick Nolan can still win it's going to be really tough for them," Perpich said.
Leadership for the 8th Congressional District Republican Party of Minnesota did not respond in time for this story. The NRCC target list also included 1st District Rep. Tim Walz and 7th District Rep. Collin Peterson as targets in Minnesota.
By the time the 2018 election rolls around, Nolan could be vying for the vacant Minnesota governorship, leaving the 8th District as an open race. In January, Perpich and others filed the Coalition to Draft Rick Nolan for Governor with the state campaign regulatory board. Since then, Nolan has repeatedly said he is considering a run for governor to succeed Mark Dayton. On the other side, Mills left the door open after the election for a third attempt at the seat.
Should Nolan, 73, choose to enter the fray for governor, Perpich said he believes the DFL can hold on to the 8th District seat.
"There is a bench of decent candidates," he said. "If it's an open seat we have a lot of folks with a history of winning elections."
Perpich listed current and former Duluth mayors Emily Larson and Don Ness as possibilities, along with Nolan's campaign manager Joe Radinovich, Jeff Anderson and Daniel Fanning - who both vied with Nolan for the seat in 2012 - and Minnesota Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk.
While the NRCC strategizes for 2018 and beyond, the Democratic National Committee continues to weigh who will be its next leader.
Support is building nationwide for Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota's 5th District to become the next chair of the party. The first avowed Muslim elected to Congress, Ellison would be tasked with rebuilding a party that has become fractured in the wake of Trump's election. Democrats, testy from the Trump ascension, have split into factions of Clinton supporters and those claiming a way forward under the socialist leanings of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Working in Washington, D.C., Perpich said that for a while surrounding the inauguration spirits were noticeably down among party members.
"Now, they're not down anymore," he said. "They understand what we're up against."