After she was first recruited by the DFL, it took a couple months in 2019 for Quinn Nystrom to decide to run for Congress in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District.
On Sunday, her decision was rewarded as Nystrom earned the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's nomination in overwhelming fashion. Nystrom won 78% of delegates' votes in the first round of ranked choice voting — a decisive win that leaves her to face Rep. Pete Stauber in the Nov. 3 general election.
"“I want to thank all of the delegates who participated in this DFL Endorsement process," Nystrom said in a statement Sunday. "This campaign is based on the belief that nobody in the wealthiest country on earth should be forced to choose between paying their mortgage or going to the doctor when they are sick. I am running to strengthen the middle class, and rural America, which is often ignored by politicians in Washington.”
Nystrom, 34, was expected to address supporters Sunday night during a Facebook Live event.
Balloting was conducted remotely via mail and email after the 8th District DFL Convention was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gaylene Spolarich received 18% of the 8th District DFL delegate vote, and Soren Sorensen 1.5%. Both candidates said they would respect the outcome.
"The Minnesota DFL Party has endorsed a talented and diverse array of candidates for the United States House of Representatives," Party Chair Ken Martin said in a news release after all eight districts produced a clear winner, including Dan Feehan (1st), Rep. Angie Craig (2nd), Rep. Dean Phillips (3rd), Rep. Betty McCollum (4th), Rep. Ilhan Omar (5th), Tawnja Zahradka (6th) and Rep. Collin Peterson (7th).
The November general election ballot is plump with local and national races, and will feature the U.S. presidential race, Sen. Tina Smith's bid for her first full-term in the Senate, and now Stauber vs. Nystrom in the 8th Congressional District race.
Nystrom, of Baxter, is a lifelong diabetes advocate, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 13. She has notably helped to organize insulin caravans to Canada, where the drug can be purchased for less cost than in the United States.
She has said that the caravans are not a sustainable solution, and will now get a chance to proffer affordable solutions on the campaign trail.
“The last few months have exposed the inequities in our healthcare system, as millions of Americans have lost their insurance and income as their businesses closed, sometimes forever, because of the pandemic," she said in her victory statement. "I’ve spent my life fighting against pharmaceutical companies, and in Washington I won’t be afraid to take on the big corporations that have made it harder for the middle class to get ahead."
Nystrom has repeatedly cited Stauber in her origins as a 8th District candidate. She'd attempted to arrange a diabetes roundtable with the congressman in 2019. After an encouraging start, the effort faded, she said, at a time when insulin affordability was peaking as a national issue.
"We were begging him to help us," Nystrom told the News Tribune last October.
Spolarich, a children and families worker for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and Brainerd's Sorensen were unable to gain financial traction in a race that saw almost all of the monetary support swing to Nystrom.
Nystrom entered April with $102,988 in cash on hand. She said last week she had been enjoying some of her best weeks of financial support and volunteer sign-ups lately, despite having to campaign mostly online.
Nystrom has served a term on the Baxter City Council, and lost in a 2016 run for Minnesota House of Representatives in District 10A, which includes Baxter and nearby Brainerd.