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Three key leaders on Minnesota's Cuyuna Iron Range today joined their counterparts on the Mesabi Iron Range in support of Rick Nolan's bid for the 8th District DFL endorsement for Congress.

State Representative John Ward of Brainerd, former State Representative Kris Hasskamp of Crosby, and former President of the Minnesota Senate Don Samuelson of Brainerd all threw their support behind the former 6th district congressman, with Samuelson calling Nolan "One of the greatest fighters for working families Minnesota has ever produced."

Their enthusiasm for Nolan's bid to challenge Michele Bachmann clone Chip Cravaack is evident in their statements. Former Senator Samuelson, a bricklayer by trade who represented the Cuyuna Range for 35 years, echoed former State Representative and steelworker Joe Begich of Eveleth in praising the former congressman's strong support for organized labor:


Rick Nolan is a proven leader and champion for working families. Rick is not only with us on every issue workers depend on – Social Security, Medicare, wages, benefits, safe working conditions, fair trade and ending the right wing war on the Middle Class – he’s the engine and the driver. Rick Nolan is a congressman who will get out front and lead. When he says he’s running because regular people matter, he really means it.

Hasskamp, who served in the Minnesota House from 1988 to 2000, agreed with former Chisholm Free Press publisher Veda Ponikvar that Nolan is one of us and we can count on him to fight for us in Washington:

I’ve known Rick Nolan all my life. Nobody I know has a bigger heart and cares more about people. Rick Nolan knows the Range, and as our next great congressman, he’ll fight every day for the jobs and economic development we need to return to greatness.

Representative Ward agreed and emphasized the difference between Chip Cravaack and Rick Nolan:

Unlike Mr. Cravaack, who votes exactly as he is told to vote by the Republican National Committee with no regard whatsoever for the interests of the people he was elected to represent, Rick Nolan will weigh every vote and every action in Washington by its effect on the workers, seniors, small businesses, students and struggling Middle Class families he represents here in the Eighth District

 Nolan, who served six years in Congress and four years in the Minnesota House,expressed his appreciation for their support and blasted Chip Cravaack for representing the interests of right wing extremists and big business:

Don Samuelson, John Ward and Kris Hasskamp have done so much for northern Minnesota. They serve honorably and effectively in public life because people matter, and that’s why I’m so proud to have them as part of our campaign.

Mr. Cravaack has utterly failed to represent anybody but the special interests who are determined to kill Social Security, Medicare and collective bargaining, allow the Middle Class to continue to fund the Bush tax cuts for the rich, close our airports and post offices, de-fund the Forest Service during fire season and stop job-generating projects like Duluth to Twin Cities light rail. With people like Don, John and Kris standing with us, we are going to send Mr. Cravaack home to New Hampshire in 2012.

The Cuyuna Rangers stressed they believe that Nolan, who has a proven record of winning elections in conservative areas, is the candidate who can defeat Chip Cravack and the Tea Party.

Hasskamp asserts:

We’ve got to endorse a winner in 2012. Our economic future on the Range depends on it. Rick’s won three Congressional elections and won them substantially.

Ward continues:

His incredible energy and absolute dedication to all of us here in northern Minnesota makes him the only choice, in my view, for the DFL endorsement. So let’s get behind him and get to work.

Hasskamp, Samuelson and Ward join Mesabi Iron Range legends Veda Ponikvar of Chisholm and Joe Begich of Eveleth in endorsing Nolan. Other DFL leaders who have endorsed Nolan include Assistant House Minority Leader John Percell of Bemidji, former State Representative Tim Faust of Hinckley, Bemidji native Representative Ryan Winkler and former State Senator Becky Lourey of Kerrick.

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