Toss-Up District Braces For Another Close Race

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Eighth congressional district DFL Congressman Rick Nolan speaks to a crowd at the University of Minnesota Duluth Kirby Student Center Tuesday, October 30, 2012 in Duluth, Minn/ Credit: NRCC

DULUTH, Minn. — One of the most hotly contested races in the 2016 election for not only Minnesota, but the entire U.S. Congress is starting to heat up early.

The past two election cycles have seen competitive races in Minnesota’s eighth congressional district. A toss-up district that once had the eyes and financial backing of many around the country is expected to draw the same national curiousity it’s drawn in the past four years.

The election is more than a year out, but third quarter fundraising totals published by the Federal Election Committee are beginning to show donor confidence in a particular candidate’s chances of winning in November 2018.

While sitting Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan currently has approximately a half million in cash-on-hand, he was outraised by his Republican challenger.

Reports released over the weekend show Nolan raising $121,000 between July and September, almost $15,000 less than Pete Staubert, who raised $136,000 during the same time period.

In June, The Cook Political Report detailed the continuing change in the Minnesota political scene, noting districts one, seven, and eight, were “ripe” for changing political hands. The partisan voting index for Nolan’s district in particular changed to R+4 in favor of Republicans.

The race against Nolan is fluid as new changes continue to emerge.
As reported by Alpha News, Leah Phifer, 33, announced her plans to primary Nolan in 2018, his first primary challenger since winning the seat from former Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack in 2012.

On Saturday, the Duluth News Tribune reported Stewart Mills to be mulling a third-run against Nolan, leading to a potential Republican primary.

Mills told the Tribune he needed a “path to victory” before he would consider “weighing in on the race.”

Nolan faced a tough challenger in Mills, who lost to the incumbent in the 2014 and 2016 general elections by 1.4 and 0.6 points respectively.

Both parties will begin to pick delegates for their various political conventions at caucuses at the beginning of February.

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