When Congressman Rick Nolan announced his retirement ("U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan to retire from Congress," Feb. 10), he was facing one declared DFL opponent, Leah Phifer. It seemed logical the focus would shift to Phifer as the sole remaining DFL candidate. Instead, speculation flourished about who else might seek the DFL endorsement, with little mention of Phifer. Reports primarily cited men, none of whom had hinted at a run.

The marginalization of Phifer's candidacy embodied the sexist cronyism plaguing our government.

Some regard Phifer as unelectable, citing her lack of experience and opposition to mining. In truth, Phifer is a seasoned public servant with a decade of immigration and counter-terrorism experience. Additionally, she is not staunchly anti-mining but promotes a thorough apolitical evaluation of scientific data in shaping critical regional decisions.

Talented women face uphill battles to prove their capabilities among mediocre men. If a young man was in the race at the time of Nolan's announcement, he'd have been donned the party's promising new face. Nolan himself said it's time to "pass the baton to the next generation."

Democrats must recognize the next generation is not a younger Nolan clone but a fresh progressive candidate who will build on past successes and promote an innovative future for our region.

Danny Frank