MN-08: Rick Nolan touts support from Koch-linked group then slams Stewart Mills for donation from KochPAC

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in July slammed challenger Stewart Mills for accepting a $2,500 contribution from Koch Industries Inc. Political Action Fund (KochPAC) but just two months earlier the 8th district congressman happily touted support from a social welfare group with close ties to the Koch brothers.

Nolan described Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) as “nonpartisan” and “bipartisan” after it lined up behind his amendment to the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) last May.

But TPA is part of what Pro Publica calls “a tangle of nonprofits, sometimes referred to as the Kochtopus, all aimed at advancing conservative causes.” Pro Publica’s excellent chart documents the organization’s place in the Koch network.

TPA receives nearly all of its funding from Americans for Job Security (AJS). According to the most recent IRS filings, AJS donated $1,108,000 to the group, which reported total receipts of $1,600,056.

And the relationship between the two organizations extends beyond money. Steven Demaura, the president/secretary/director of AJS, also serves as treasurer/secretary/director of TPA.

TPA describes itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to educating the public through the research, analysis and dissemination of information on the government’s effects on the economy.”

However, the group’s conservative underpinnings are quite obvious. It has argued, for example, that LEED green building standards are excess government regulation, that Obamacare will result in substandard medical care, that the Davis-Bacon Act artificially inflates construction costs and that a lower corporate tax rate will result in economic growth and job creation.

TPA’s 2014 lobbying agenda includes opposing net neutrality and a federal ban on internet gaming. The group also signed a letter to members of Congress in support of HR 3835, the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014.

In May, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) spearheaded a bipartisan effort urging adoption of several amendments to NDAA, including Nolan’s. TPA was one of 22 organizations to sign the letter to Congress which stated in part “The undersigned organizations may not agree on many things, but we all agree on this: The United States must curb wasteful and ineffective spending at the Pentagon. Doing so will save billions of valuable tax dollars as well as help to make America safer with the hard decisions our national security requires.”

Two groups that actively support Nolan -Council for a Livable World and Progressive Democrats of America – also signed the letter, yet Nolan repeatedly singled out the Koch-backed Taxpayers Protection Alliance

- In the defense issue section of his congressional website

My amendment prohibits the construction of any project over $500,000 without submitting a report to Congress assuring proper auditing and oversight. It was supported by the non-partisan Taxpayers Protection Alliance and 22 other organizations under the banner of the Project on Government Oversight.

– In a May 22 press release

The Nolan amendment was supported by the nonpartisan Taxpayers Protection Alliance and 22 other organizations under the banner of the Project on Government Oversight.

- In the May 27 Monday Report

That’s exactly why the measure received such enthusiastic, bipartisan support from the bipartisan Taxpayers Protection Alliance and 22 other organizations under the Project on Government Oversight.

The Democratic strategy in 2014 is to run against the Koch brothers and the Nolan campaign is continuing to pound on Mills for accepting Koch money, even linking him to the October 2012 closing of the Koch-owned Georgia Pacific plant in Duluth. Nolan also made the plant closure an issue in his campaign against incumbent Rep. Chip Cravaack, accusing the Republican of not doing more to keep the plant open because of the $5000 KochPAC donated to his campaign.

KochPAC’s contribution to Friends of Stewart Mills is significantly less than that given to other Minnesota campaigns this cycle. According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, KochPAC has contributed $10,000 – the maximum allowed under federal law – to GOP incumbents John Kline (MN-02) and Erik Paulsen (MN-03). 7th district DFL incumbent Collin Peterson received $6,000. To date, Mills has received just $2,500.

Nolan campaign manager slams Mills for KochPAC donation August 2014

MN-08: Stewart Mills says American pipelines should be built with American steel

Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills disagree on many issues, but building American pipelines with American steel isn’t one of them. Mills said on Monday that using domestic steel for pipelines is “just common sense.”

The national controversy over the source of steel used in pipeline construction was pushed to the forefront in Minnesota on Aug.6 when Mike McFadden, a Republican seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Al Franken, stated that he supported using unsubsidized foreign steel if it was cheaper than domestic steel. The predicted furor erupted across the Iron Range and threatened to spill over into the race for 8th district congress on Aug.11, when Nolan criticized McFadden’s position as “indefensible” and used it as a springboard to call on Mills to disclose his position on the issue.

“Stewart Mills III is a multi-millionaire with a financial stake in the oil and gas business. He’s also been campaigning with Mike McFadden all over the 8th District. Mills has a vested interest in building cheap pipelines, since it means more money in his pockets. Iron Rangers deserve to know whether he too would choose to import cheap steel from China in order to protect his own wealth.” Nolan said in the statement posted on Facebook.

But Mills supports the use of domestic steel.

“The Iron Range has long been the backbone of our part of Minnesota, and it’s just common sense for me that American pipelines should be built with American steel,” Mills responded in an email

“Miners and their families deserve a strong voice in Washington, but Rick Nolan doesn’t stand for their values. He claims to support American steel and steelworkers, but then turns around and votes against projects like Keystone XL that would benefit them. I’ll always stand up for Iron Range miners and their families”

Nolan and Mills each bring a certain level of expertise to the debate, but from different ends of the pipeline.

Mills’ personal financial disclosure reflects an ownership interest in Crow Wing Oil Company, a privately-held wholesale distributor of oil products. The company does not explore and drill nor process and refine, transport and store oil and gas. It simply purchases and sells end products.

Nolan lived and worked in the Middle East while serving as an investment advisor to the Royal Family of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi controls 95 percent of the oil reserves in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 94 percent of its gas reserves. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the UAE “is one of the 10 largest oil and natural gas producers in the world.”

Since Nolan and Mills agree on using domestic steel when building pipelines, they are now free to quibble over who really supports the projects or workers. But another comment in Nolan’s statement grabbed the attention of Iron Rangers and did not go unnoticed by Mills.

“The strongest, safest, most reliable steel in the world is mined and processed by Minnesotans right here on the Iron Range,” said Nolan, prompting Mills to add “Just one final point – I would suggest that Rick read up on the difference between iron and steel (there are no steel mills on the Range, Rick!)”

A low-grade iron ore called taconite is mined and processed on the Iron Range. Steel is an alloy. Northern Minnesota has not produced steel since the early 1970s, when United States Steel closed their steel-making and finishing operations in Duluth.

Nolan’s facebook post remained unedited as of Tuesday evening.

Wednesday morning update: Nolan deleted the post.

Rick Nolan for Congress Steel Aug 11 2014

MN-08: Rep. Rick Nolan launched leadership PAC in March

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan might be more attuned to the realities of modern fundraising than the Nolan camp and party leaders recently indicated. Nolan quietly launched a leadership political action committee earlier this year, suggesting that the 8th district congressman knows that he has to step up his fundraising efforts.

Most members of Congress, including those in the Minnesota delegation, maintain a so-called leadership PAC, a legally non-connected committee that allows members to raise large sums of special interest money with few restrictions on how those funds are spent.

The one thing incumbents can’t spend the funds on is their own campaign and they typically use the money to provide financial support to political parties, candidates and colleagues, subject to contribution limits.

Nolan recently told MPR that he doesn’t care to spend time as “an entry level telemarketer dialing for dollars,” reflecting a long-held attitude towards fundraising which no doubt frustrates colleagues who are sending along money to keep the Nolan campaign afloat.

Talking points aside, Nolan appears to have been nudged down the path of self-sufficiency by party leaders taking a tough love approach with their wayward child.

On Mar 5, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced the first round of Frontline members and did not include Nolan on the list of endangered incumbents, an omission that seemed odd given his weak fundraising and the competitive nature of the race.

That same day, Nolan for Congress treasurer Jim DeChaine signed paperwork establishing Nolan’s leadership PAC, Restore Democracy.

Restore Democracy was officially registered with FEC on Mar 11 and the Agency noted that the committee failed to file its April quarterly report, for the period Mar 11 through Mar 31.

According to the July quarterly report (Apr 1 through Jun 30), the committee raised $17,500 from just four donors. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers donated $5000 on May 8, United Transportation Union $5000 on May 28, Lockridge Grindal Nauen $2500 on Jun 18 and American Crystal Sugar $5000 on Jun 18.

On July 15, Nolan for Congress posted its best fundraising quarter to date for the cycle, bolstered by $33,000 sent by colleeagues in the closing days of the reporting period. In addition, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s leadership PAC, Democrats Win Seats, acted as a conduit for contributions totalling more than $15,000.

Yet Nolan still fell behind Republican challenger Stewart Mills and was added to the Frontline program on July 18.

Restore Democracy is not connected to Nolan’s principle campaign committee, so it can accept donations from political committees and individuals who have already sent the maximum allowable contributions to Nolan for Congress. Those funds cannot legally be spent to directly benefit Nolan’s campaign, but can be used to meet his obligations to colleagues and the party and keep the special interest money flowing through the shell game that passes for campaign finance in this country.

Data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that the overwhelming majority of the contributions to leadership PACs come from other PACs. Contributions for this cycle (as of Jun 30) total $33,006,846, with $32,695,096 coming from other PACs

Leadership PACS are subject to federal contribution limits and reporting requirements but campaign finance laws don’t apply to how the funds are spent, resulting wide-spread abuse according to watchdogs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the Campaign Legal Center (CLC)

CLC Senior Counsel Paul Ryan notes that leadership PACs were created in the 1970s, ostensibly for politicians to support those of similar ideologies but have “evolved into slush funds to raise and spend money on anything they want except their own campaign.”

However, the public may be unaware that their representative or senator even has such a committee.

The FEC requires that affiliated committees, such as joint fundraising committees, be disclosed in the filings of a candidate’s principle campaign committee. But there is no such requirement for non-connected committees and finding out who has a leadership PAC can be difficult, allowing politicians to operate these committees largely outside of public scrutiny.

The lack of disclosure makes it easy for members of Congress to quietly create a leadership PAC and solicit funds from special interests without their constituents ever knowing about it, which is exactly what Rep Nolan did last March.

MN-08: The tweet U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan didn’t want you to see

“The tweets they prefer you wouldn’t see” is how the watchdog Sunlight Foundation describes Politwoops,a project that archives tweets deleted by politicians, and just such a tweet has turned into a headache for 8th district U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan.

The drama began Friday evening when Nolan responded to a tweet by U.S. Rep. Trent Franks criticizing Pres. Obama for statements made during a 2001 interview. “Says Constitution imperfect document reflecting fundamental flaw of the country that continues,” Franks tweeted. Nolan fired back this gem:

Blog Nolan constitution deleted

Nolan deleted the tweet eight minutes later, but it was captured by Politwoops and caught the attention of Republican challenger Stewart Mills. On Monday morning, the Mills campaign issued a press release calling on Nolan to explain the tweet:

“Rick Nolan needs to explain what exactly he meant when he called the Constitution an imperfect document on Friday,” said Mills. “As a Member of Congress, he took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, but now he’s showing his true colors. For hundreds of years, countless Americans have fought and made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life. They stood up to defend not only their country, but their Constitution and all it stands for. The Eighth Congressional District needs someone who will respect the principles our country was founded on, not someone who thinks that foundation is imperfect.”

Congressman Nolan has not yet issued a statement or responded to our request for comment. But City Pages reports a Nolan source suggested the tweet may have been deleted because it contained a spelling error or was made by an unauthorized user.

This deleted tweet containing mistakes and reeking with attitude created a furor, but previous tweets that were not deleted raised a few eyebrows for similar reasons. For example:

Blog Nolan tweet earth day apr 2013

Blog Nolan tweet Obama snark apr 2013

Nolan repeated a media spelling error and didn’t recognize that ‘piece meal’ is one word:

Nolan twitter weinermobile

Nolan twitter mistake piece meal apr 2013

Nolan apparently confused the Legacy Amendment with the Clean Water Fund :

nolan twitter clean water fund screw up

Nolan sponsored a bill facilitating a land swap between Carlton County and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, but still didn’t get the Band’s name correct:

blog nolan tweet ojibwa jul 2013

Nolan is responsible for all of his official communications. The Sunlight Foundation created Politwoops to hold politicians accountible for their public statements and accountibility is indeed the issue here.

This story will be updated if Rep. Nolan responds to our request for comment.

An earlier version of the story omitted the reference to City Pages

Mills, Westrom form new ‘super joint’ fundraising committee

A new ‘super joint’ fundraising committee will benefit Republicans seeking to unseat two Democratic congressmen in Northern Minnesota, according to paperwork filed on May 21 with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

First reported by the Center for Public Integrity, the committee, called ‘Young Guns Day 1 2014′, includes Mills Fleet Farm Vice-President Stewart Mills, who is challenging 8th District U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, and State Sen. Torrey Westrom, who is challenging 7th District U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson. Other beneficiaries are the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and eight other Republican candidates who have reached the top tier of the party’s Young Guns program.

Young Guns is a challenger-assistance program and employs a multi-tier approach that allows candidates to advance in the ranks by demonstrating a credible campaign in a competitive race. Mills was named to ‘On the Radar’, the lowest tier, in November 2013. He and Westrom both achieved top tier ‘Young Gun’ status on May 13, 2014.

Joint fundraising committees consist of two or more candidates, party committees or political action committees. All share in fundraising costs and distribute the proceeds according to a specific formula.

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v FEC, federal law limited the total amount an individual could give to federal candidates, party committees and political action committees, so these joint fundraising committees were quite limited in scope.

But in McCutcheon, the Court ruled those aggregate contribution caps unconstitutional, opening the door for donors to give to as many candidates and committees as they want and paving the way for ‘super joint’ fundraising committees – those formed for the benefit of many candidates or committees – that can exert pressure on deep-pocketed donors to write big checks.

Under these new rules, an individual is allowed to write a check for as much as $84,600 to Young Guns Day 1 2014. But the donor must abide by the maximum contribution limits of $5200 per election cycle to a candidate and $32,400 per year to a national party committee.

This is the second joint fundraising committee formed by Mills and Westrom. In March, they joined with the NRCC to form the Minnesota Congressional Victory Fund. Mills reported receipts of $9,254 from this venture on his April quarterly FEC filing, while Westrom’s share of the proceeds was $16,312.

From the Archives: Iron Range Delegation asks Governor Dayton to veto anti-Range Republican tax bill

(originally published on May 18, 2011)

In yet another attempt to avoid public scrutiny, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the Omnibus Tax Bill (HF 42) during the wee hours Wednesday morning. The Republicans do in fact have ample reason to be ashamed of the bill, for it contains onerous provisions that directly target the people of the Iron Range. One would pilfer $60 million from the Douglas J. Johnson Economic Protection Trust Fund, a business development fund that derives its revenue from the tax on production of taconite paid by the mining companies in lieu of property taxes. And apparently stealing Range property tax revenue isn’t enough for the Republicans, for another provision takes aim at reducing the taconite tax by freezing it at levels when the demand for steel was low. IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich estimates that the agency will lose approximately $20 million in the next biennium as a result, money that will not be available for economic development and diversification of the region’s economic base.

In other words, the Republicans are requiring just three percent of the state’s population to give up their property tax revenue and to disproportionately fund the state’s budget reductions while at the same time making a significant cut to that same revenue stream and guaranteeing the region’s major industry windfall profits as it removes a non-renewable resource.

Sounds reasonable.

The Iron Range Delegation sent the following letter to Governor Mark Dayton urging him to veto HF 42:

We the undersigned members of the Iron Range Delegation of the Minnesota Legislature, are writing to call your attention to the following provisions of the omnibus tax bill that punish the Iron Range.

First of all, the Republicans confiscated our local property tax by taking $60 million from the Taconite Economic Protection Fund. As you know, Article X Section 6 of or Constitution clearly states that taconite production taxes are in lieu of local property taxes. Secondly, they froze the escalator which was agreed upon with the mining industry at the time when taconite pellet prices are at an all time high. Governor, the mining companies’ profits are at record levels. Finally, they eliminated the small amount of money that we appropriated in statute for the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS) and the Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, both of which are very beneficial to the people of the Iron Range.

Clearly, Governor, the attacks by the Republican Majority on all the DFL areas of the state are an embarrassing way to govern and set a new low in public policy for the state of Minnesota.

We respectfully request that you veto the omnibus tax bill and ask that you mention our issues in your veto message.

Republican Rep. Carolyn McElfatrick of Grand Rapids is the only member of the Iron Range Delegation who did not sign the letter. McElfatrick did, however, previously join the Delegation in denouncing the raid on the DJJ fund.

On Tuesday’s edition of MPR’s Midday program, Governor Dayton clearly voiced his displeasure about the assault on the Iron Range’s economic development fund:

It’s terribly wrong and it’s unacceptable.

Rep. Rick Nolan backtracks on support for PolyMet permitting bill

Northern Minnesota is known for its great fishing, so perhaps it’s fitting that tracking 8th District Congressman Rick Nolan’s position on a bill that deregulates the mining industry and fast tracks the permitting process for PolyMet is a bit like watching a fish flopping around on a dock: first he’s against it, then he’s for it and now he once again opposes it, this time promising to vote against the legislation if it “comes anywhere near close to becoming law.”

Nolan made that assurance while addressing the audience at the Climate Change Forum held at the University of Minnesota, Duluth on Nov. 16, 2013.

We reported in September that Nolan stunned many by voting for National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act, mining industry-backed legislation that he blasted both Democrat Jeff Anderson and Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack for supporting and promised never to vote for if elected to congress. Nolan’s sudden reversal of his position that proposed mining projects must meet environmental rules as currently written in order to be permitted and subsequent vote to assist right-wing Republicans in their efforts to deregulate yet another industry was among the issues attendees wanted to discuss with their congressman. But getting answers to their concerns proved to be difficult and when pressed Nolan often contradicted himself. For example, he initially claimed HR 761 does not gut environmental protections (contrary to what he asserted on the campaign trail), but simply changes the “regulatory regime” just as they did in the Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013 and went on to discuss how Cirrus Aviation benefits from that legislation. But when later questioned if his flip flop on the issue is a sign that he’s taking support from environmentalists for granted, Nolan finally acknowledged that HR 761 does indeed gut environmental protections, and made this promise:

I assure you if and when that legislation (HR 761) comes to anywhere near close to becoming law as I said then, I will not vote for anything that is going to degrade our environment and that’s my position and it has always been my position and I’m sticking with it.

When asked to clarify Congressman Nolan’s position on HR 761, Communications Director Steve Johnson replied “original statement still stands.”

The reaction of those who gathered in Bohannon Hall on that Saturday afternoon is perhaps best summed up by 32-year-old Jesse Peterson, who characterized Nolan’s responses and actions with respect to HR 761 as “incredibly deceptive and reflecting a willingness to be phony.”

House of Martok gains foothold on Earth in anticipation of environmental disaster

The official peace between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets came to an abrupt end Tuesday when the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council successfully claimed a small town on the Human home world for the House of Martok.

In a radical departure from Klingon tradition, General Martok used the electoral process rather than weapons in his campaign to seize the land in New York State, a move that allowed the great warrior to avoid Federation security and win a seat on the town board in the hamlet of Ulysses. But observers should not view this peaceful takeover as any indication that the Klingons are going soft.

“There is no honor in killing Red Shirts,” growled Martok with disgust as he dipped his cup into a barrel of bloodwine, adding “And I am not a politician. But sometimes, fate plays cruel tricks on us.”

When asked why he was so bold as to target the Federation capital, Gen. Martok responded “Praxis,” which he slowly repeated again with the knowing smile of a seasoned tactician.

Praxis was the key energy production center of the Klingon Empire until a mining accident caused its destruction. The explosion of the Qo’noS moon (due to over-mining and lack of safety protocols) created an environmental disaster on the Klingon home world so devastating that the Empire had no choice but to open a dialogue with the Federation, triggering events which ultimately led to a peace agreement with its enemy.

The Chancellor explained that the High Council has been carefully monitoring the deregulation of the mining industry on Earth and determined that questionable mining practices combined with diminishing safety regulations “are not compatible with human habitation.” And Martok, son of Urthog, stands ready to claim the prize – or what’s left of it – for the greatest of the Klingon Houses.

Senior Nolan staffer opposes DFL-endorsed candidate, rankles DFL Party

The above headline is one no first term 8th District DFL congressman wants to see and newly-hired congressional staffers are cautioned that any perceived transgression – personal or professional – reported in the media will be framed in exactly this manner. And most are careful to always act in the Member’s best interest, behaving in a manner that serves to further their mission to serve constituents rather than detract from it. Wise staffers understand that others will assume their actions are sanctioned by the congressman and typically steer clear of intraparty battles involving other candidates for public office and instead strive to maintain good relationships within the party. Yet Congressman Rick Nolan’s district director, Jeff Anderson, has chosen to formally endorse a candidate who is challenging the DFL-endorsed candidate in a race for the Duluth School Board and to snub the DFL party apparatus in Northern Minnesota.

Nolan is facing some potentially serious problems within the ranks of the DFL and his district director’s actions, which one die-hard DFLer describes as “disheartening”, have no doubt contributed to the growing discontent among some members of the party. And it isn’t just the involvement in intraparty election contests that rankles activists. Anderson was scheduled to speak on Nolan’s behalf at the 8th District DFL Annual Fall Dinner last month, yet he never showed up at the event and did not even send other Nolan staffers in his place. But he did make sure some of his former campaign staffers attended the event, thus the table purchased by the Nolan campaign was occupied solely by those who supported Anderson in the DFL primary. No one spoke on Rep. Nolan’s behalf, leaving the congressman without representation at a major party event just as the Cuyuna Range native faces a tough bid for re-election.

Duluth School Board elections are non partisan, but the Duluth DFL does endorse candidates. In District 1, DFLers endorsed long time party and community activist Rosie Loeffler Kemp over newcomer Joe Matthes. Matthes had stated he would abide by the endorsement, but declared the process unfair after he lost to Loeffler Kemp, whose name was placed in nomination from the floor of the convention per DFL party rules. Anderson formally endorsed Matthes in his challenge to the duly endorsed DFL candidate. Matthes did make it through the three way primary with 28 percent of the vote but finished far behind Loeffler Kemp, who made a strong showing with 54 percent.

This race not only pits DFLers against each other, but also long time rivals AFSCME Council 5 and AFSCME Council 65. Matthes is a representative for Council 65, Loeffler Kemp’s husband is a field representative for Council 5 and together these unions represent approximately 12,000 members in the 8th congressional district. Also in play is a 2007 controversy involving the Loeffler Kemps hiring of a non-union contractor to build their home, an act that was characterized as a misunderstanding but nonetheless fueled the sometimes tense relationship that exists between the public employees union and the building trades. The story was revived just last week on MNLabor.

Only three other unions joined Council 65 and Council 5 in endorsing candidates in this race. The Duluth Building and Construction Trades Council backed Matthes and the Duluth Federation of Teachers and AFSCME Local 66 threw their support behind Loeffler Kemp, a former organizer for Clean Water Action. Of note is that the Northeast Area Labor Council endorsed candidates in every school board race except District 1.

The District 1 race was not the only school board election which Nolan’s district director chose to get involved in this year. In District 4, there was no DFL endorsement because delegates remained divided between Justin Perpich and incumbent Art Johnston. Anderson formally endorsed Perpich, one of his former congressional campaign staffers, over Johnston and EPA biologist David Bolgrien. And like Anderson, Perpich angered the DFL party by distributing campaign materials that gave the impression that he had received the party endorsement and he too failed to emerge from the primary. Bolgrien was the top finisher with 38 percent of the vote, followed by Johnston with 33 percent and Perpich with 29 percent. Perpich subsequently threw his support to Bolgrien.

It’s interesting that both of the candidates Anderson endorsed for school board received roughly the same percentage of the vote that he received in his unsuccessful primary challenge to the DFL-endorsed candidate in the race for 8th district congress.

The involvement of Nolan’s district director in these school board races is perplexing, especially since there is no record of the former city councilor formally endorsing any candidate who is seeking election to the Duluth City Council.But Anderson did join Mayor Don Ness and Councilor Dan Hartman (both of whom supported him in his primary race against Nolan) in co-hosting a fundraiser for council at large candidate Zack Filipovich last month.

Nolan’s district director has an interesting personal history with the DFL and the endorsement process that perhaps offers some insight into his recent actions. Anderson sought and received the endorsement for Duluth City Council in 2008, yet chose to not abide by the process in 2012 when it became obvious he would lose the DFL endorsement for congress to Rick Nolan. Nolan was indeed endorsed by a resounding 76 percent of the delegates to a mere 10 percent for Anderson, who then accused the 8th district DFL of being anti-mining and joined Republican incumbent Rep. Chip Cravaack in calling for deregulation of the mining industry. Nolan vehemently opposed such legislation and went on to handily win the primary with 38 percent of the vote. Anderson finished last in the three way contest, garnering just 29 percent to Tarryl Clark’s 32 percent, but as district director seems to have prevailed on the issue of deregulating the mining industry. We noted in September that Nolan changed his position and voted for the bill – which expedites the permitting process by gutting the Clean Water Act and NEPA – that Anderson advocated, a move that angered many supporters, including the Lake County DFL. Interestingly, one of the candidates Anderson opposes has ties to a group that advocates for clean water and another works for the federal agency charged with enforcing rules and regulations that protect the environment.

Anderson’s apparent disdain for both the party and the endorsement process stands in stark contrast to that of his boss, who is a staunch supporter of the endorsement process and has always run for office with the party’s full support. But the buck stops with Nolan. It is his responsibility to ensure that his district director serves him well because the assumption is that Anderson is acting with his full knowledge and consent. And a first term DFL congressman who has no presence at the 8th District DFL’s annual dinner and sees nothing wrong with his district director opposing the DFL-endorsed candidate in a local race may well find lukewarm support from party activists in his bid for re-election.

Congressman Nolan’s communications director did not respond to our request for comment.

An earlier version of the story erroneously switched the names of Art Johnston and David Bolgrien in the District 4 race. We regret the error.

MN-08: Republican Legislators Endorse Stewart Mills For Congress

Republican Stewart Mills III of Nisswa has secured endorsements from 16 Republican members of the Minnesota Legislature in his bid for the 8th district congressional seat held by DFL Rep. Rick Nolan of Crosby, his campaign announced Wednesday. This list includes every Republican state representative or state senator whose district encompasses a portion of the 8th congressional district.* mills family

Nine of the legislators endorsing Mills reside in the 8th congressional district:

House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt of Crown
Rep. Brian Johnson of Cambridge
Rep. Ron Kresha of Little Falls
Rep. Bob Barrett of Lindstrom
Rep. Mark Anderson of Lake Shore
Rep. Sondra Erickson of Princeton
Sen. Paul Gazelka of Nisswa
Sen. Sean Nienow of Cambridge
Sen. Carrie Ruud of Breezy Point

Six represent legislative districts that creep into the 8th congressional district:

Sen. Karin Housley of St. Mary’s Point
Sen. Dave Brown of Becker
Sen. Michelle Benson of Ham Lake
Rep. Steve Green of Fosston
Rep. Jim Newberger of Becker
Rep. Tom Dettmer of Forest Lake

Joining the legislators of the 8th congressional district in endorsing Mills is Rep. Tom Hackbarth of Cedar. Hackbarth’s district is contained within the boundaries of 6th congressional district, but his hometown of Anoka was part of the Fighting 8th during the 1970′s.

In a prepared statement released by the Friends of Stewart Mills, Ruud said that Mills “fits our district,” while Minority Leader Daudt emphasized Mills’ status as a state and local business leader:

Stewart Mills has been an integral business leader in our district and across the state of Minnesota for many years. His leadership and problem solving ability will be a greatly needed addition to Washington.

Mills,41, announced a formal challenge to Nolan, 69, earlier this month and garnered national attention for significantly outraising the incumbent in his first quarter of fundraising. These endorsements from every Republican legislator who represents a portion of the 8th district indicate strong support for his campaign from within the party and are the first to come from Minnesotans. Mills’ only other endorsement in the race comes from former 8th District Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack, who previously issued a statement of support in a fundraising email sent to supporters.

Nolan defeated Cravaack in one of the most hotly contested and expensive congressional races of 2012.The district remains competitive and the 2014 congressional race is once again expected to attract millions in outside spending. Both the Rothenberg Political Report and the Cook Political Report currently rate the district as a ‘Lean Democrat.”

*ICFP noted that Rep. Tom Dettmer was the only Republican legislator representing part of the 8th district who was not included in Mills’ press release. Dettmer could not be reached for comment, but a spokesperson for Friends of Stewart Mills stated that Dettmer had indeed endorsed Mills but was inadvertently omitted from the list.