During the recent election Rep Chip Cravaack and his extremist friends repeatedly pounded away at former Congressman Rick Nolan for being “liberal and radical”, and warned voters Nolan would continue his “radical ways” if returned to Congress. Well, Radical Rick soundly defeated Tea Party Chip on November 6, and in a telephone news conference Monday, the 8th District congressman-elect outlined his radical agenda: changing the way we do politics by getting big special interest money out of elections, supporting a national light rail transit system, and passing sensible BWCA land swap legislation that represents the best interests of northern Minnesota residents.
In the early morning phone call with reporters, Nolan said he was optimistic that a BWCA land exchange bill could still be passed this year, but without the problematic provisions of Cravaack’s bill: exempting lands from the Thye-Blatnik Act, which would result in millions of lost revenue for Lake, Cook and St Louis counties; weakening protections normally afforded to federal lands; potentially allowing logging and mining interests to avoid paying revenue due to the taxpayers for use of the land. Radical Rick noted there is currently no companion bill in the Senate, and indicated he would ask Senators Franken and Klobuchar to introduce legislation that could garner bi partisan support for the land exchange and enable its passage before this session of Congress adjourns.
This new approach to the BWCA land swap highlights the difference in representation 8th district residents will notice in many areas over the coming months. Whereas Tea Party Chip’s first statements as congressman-elect were to oppose funding for the new terminal at the Duluth International Airport and for the Northern Lights Express, Radical Rick voiced strong support for a national light rail transit system, which he said would “create jobs and provide a cost effective and sensible” means of transport. And Nolan emphasized we need to continue funding for northern Minnesota airports, funding that Cravaack voted to cut or eliminate during his single term in Congress.
Nolan was also critical of the role money now plays in politics, describing it as “dangerous and threatening to our democracy”. “Members should be beholden to the public and not to the highest bidder,” he continued, and under the current system “Members spend too much time fundraising and not enough time governing.” Radical Rick plans to introduce legislation providing for federal funding for campaigns, limiting the amount of time Members devote to campaigning, and overturning the Citizen’s United ruling.
Nolan made these comments as he headed out to Washington DC for what will be his second freshman orientation. He was first elected to Congress in 1974 and served until 1980, experience that gives him a significant edge over new Members. And Nolan retains seniority from his previous service which will likely assist him in securing assignments to committees key to the 8th district: Natural Resources, and Transportation and Infrastructure. Nolan said he is eager to get to work and is particularly looking forward to the National Mining Association reception for Members of Congress this week. And the Cuyuna Range native noted that his family will continue to live in northern Minnesota “I’m just going to find a room right close by the Capitol where I can stay when Congress is in session. We’ll keep our home up in Crow Wing County where we’ve been all our lives”
Yep, that’s radical for an 8th district congressman all right.