Former Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan of Crosby added to his long list of endorsements for his campaign for US Congress Sunday, winning endorsements from three high ranking Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party legislators in northeastern Minnesota.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook, State Representative David Dill of Crane Lake and State Representative Mary Murphy of Hermantown all announced their unqualified support for Rick Nolan for Congress at their county unit convention held at Spirit Mountain on Sunday morning.
These key endorsements from the Vermilion Iron Range and the Duluth area follow Nolan’s decisive victory at the DFL convention Saturday afternoon. The former Minnesota Congressman handily won a first ballot endorsement by an impressive 76% to former City Councilor Jeff Anderson's mere 10%. Former State Senator Tarryl Clark of St Cloud received 0%, finishing behind no endorsement (12%) and undecided (.01%).
The results of the congressional endorsement vote mirror the results of straw polls conducted over the past few months by the 8th District DFL, Minnesota Public Radio and the Timberjay newspaper in Ely, and leaves little doubt as to why Anderson and Clark decided well before the convention to force a DFL primary in the 8th district congressional race. These new endorsements for Nolan from northeastern Minnesota leaders deal a particularly hard blow to the Anderson campaign; Bakk and Dill represent Anderson's hometown of Ely on the Vermilion Iron Range, and Murphy represents a portion of Duluth where Anderson currently resides and recently represented on the city council. Additionally, Bakk and Dill (who endorsed Anderson just two days before the convention) are staunch advocates for mining and timber, and their enthusiastic endorsement of Cuyuna Iron Range native Rick Nolan throws cold water on Vermilion Iron Range native Anderson's excuse for waging a primary campaign against the former congressman.
Senate Minority Leader Bakk and Representatives Dill and Murphy are senior members of the DFL legislative caucus who served as committee chairs when democrats held the majority in the Minnesota House and Senate. All are seasoned political veterans who have served as elected representatives in the wildly unpredictable "Fighting 8th" congressional district for a collective 61 years, and all are highly motivated to want the congressional candidate with the strongest coattails on the ballot in November. It is significant that less than 24 hours after the convention, all of these experienced legislators agreed that uniting behind DFL-endorsed former Congressman Rick Nolan gives democrats in the 8th district the best opportunity to defeat Bachmann clone incumbent Rep. Chip Cravaack and his right wing republican friends next fall.
The challenge now facing Jeff Anderson and Tarryl Clark is to convince democrats in northeastern Minnesota that these very popular and politically savvy elected leaders are wrong.