Rep. Rick Nolan happy to be headed back to CongressFormer Congressman Nolan won with 192,797 votes (54 percent) to Rep. Chip Cravaack’s 161,136 (45 percent).
By: Peter Passi and Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
The most expensive political race in the history of Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District proved to be a tight one, but Democratic challenger Rick Nolan won in the end, taking back the seat Republican Chip Cravaack wrested from longtime Representative Jim Oberstar two years ago.
With all the votes tallied Wednesday, the Minnesota Secretary of State website had former Congressman Nolan, D-Crosby with 192,797 votes (54 percent) to Rep. Chip Cravaack’s, R-North Branch, 161,136 (45 percent).
Nolan, a 69-year-old businessman and former social studies teacher from Crosby, will go to Washington in January as a four-term congressman. He previously served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
At a whistle stop tour in Cloquet Thursday, Nolan said he figured the race would be close but added that he was “starting to feel a little wind at my back.”
“Our message has resonated throughout the district,” he said after speaking to a crowd of about 50 at Pinehurst Park. “We have to stop nation building abroad and start building America. Create jobs here, stop companies shipping them overseas. Rebuild the middle class.”
Nolan said he believes businesses won’t start hiring until there is demand for their products. That demand won’t come, he said, until the middle class – instead of the richest Americans – gets some help.
“If you give corporations another tax break but there’s no demand for their product, they’re not going to hire people to create a product no one wants,” he said, pointing to his own experience running a small business. “They’re going to put that money in their pocket. It’s just common sense.”
Cravaack came to a gun show in Cloquet just over a week ago. The Congressman appeared at an election party at Tobies Restaurant in Hinckley shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday. He greeted supporters and told the
media he was “cautiously
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” said Cravaack, correctly predicting a long wait for final results which were particularly slow in St. Louis County.
Leaving little to chance, both candidates campaigned hard until the end.
Nolan and his wife, Mary, along with his sister, a cousin and other campaign staff, spent Tuesday morning in Duluth, greeting drivers on Superior Street, shaking hands at the Chester Creek Cafe and urging students to vote at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He voted Friday in Crosby by absentee ballot. Nolan later attended what was billed as “a victory party” at the Brainerd Hotel.
Cravaack voted at 8 a.m. Tuesday in his hometown of North Branch. Afterwards, he visited with local volunteers at campaign headquarters and gave them a pep talk as they marshaled for a final get-out-the-vote effort.
Cravaack delivered a three-minute concession speech shortly after 1 a.m. With some of his supporters in tears, Cravaack thanked family members and volunteers for their hard work and promised a smooth transition to Nolan’s term.
In all, more than $10 million in funding from outside the district was spent in a fierce campaign that drew national attention. Only two other election contests in the country attracted more outside money – Pennsylvania’s 12th District and Ohio’s 16th – according to the Federal Election Commission.
Blistering attack ads filled the airwaves and negative mailers hit mailboxes in the final weeks leading up to the election. Many of these negative ad buys came not directly from the candidates’ respective campaigns but courtesy of political action committees or supposedly issue-driven 501c4
Outside groups spent about $5.1 million to oppose Cravaack and about $4.1 to oppose Nolan, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Forum Communications writers Candace Renalls and Christa Lawler contributed to this report.