Nolan reflects on his time in Congress
DULUTH, MN — Retiring Democratic Congressman for Minnesota’s 8th District, Rick Nolan is in his final month in Washington.
Nolan began his career in Minnesota’s 8th District by winning the 2012 election against Republican incumbent Chip Cravaack. Nolan would go on to win both the 2014 and 2016 elections against Republican challenger Stewart Mills in two tight races that were among the most expensive House races in the country.
His career in politics started well before that. In 1972, he lost his first Congressional bid to Republican incumbent John Zwach in Minnesota’s 6th District. Nolan came back in 1974 and won three consecutive terms in the same District.
In one of his final interviews here in Duluth, Congressman Rick Nolan says he has a lot to be proud of over his last six years in Congress.
“We were able to get a lot of things done. So, I feel good about it, it’s just been one of the great joys, and one of the great privileges of my life, to serve the people of this great district,” he said.
Nolan says serving the district brought with it many positives.
“We got tariffs of 522% on Chinese steel dumping that was taking place. That doubled the price of ore, opened the mines back up. That put people into engineering and the services and transportation back to work,” he said.
He also helped secure grants for the Duluth airport, the port, and to rebuild the Soo Locks, which are pivotal to port traffic.
“Those are all things that improve our lives, improve our communities, environment, and create a lot of good jobs with living wages,” said Nolan.
Being in the minority party for each of 3 terms in the 8th District, Nolan says his lasting legacy will be his bi-partisan approach to the issues.
“I’d like to think that that’s my legacy, that I was able to do that, to reach across the aisle to find the common ground, to fix the things that you can, to get things done for the people,” he said.
But that legacy is clouded after allegations surfaced earlier this year of a Nolan staffer allegedly sexually harassing women, who worked for Nolan.
“We removed him from the office. He was given a job later in the campaign, and women complained again, understandably so. And we removed him from that position. So, I don’t know what else you could do. I’m comfortable we did the right thing,” said Nolan.
With just a month left in Washington D.C, Nolan says he’s hoping to button-up a few last minute items he set out to get accomplished. One of those things = is the Land Exchange bill. The bill would swap about 6.500 acres of land in the Superior National Forest for use by PolyMet, for an equal amount of undeveloped land.
“The Senate and the Congress still has yet to pass that Land Exchange Bill. And whether they are a mining project or not, it’s a good bill. The citizens get more land, they get more lakeshore, they get more wild rice land, they get more public access. It’s just a very good bill,” said Nolan.
That bill has passed the House. However, if the Senate votes on it, it likely would have revisions made to it, and would have to go back to the House for approval.
Nolan is also hoping to end Citizens United before he leaves Congress.
Citizens United regulates campaign spending and allows any amount of money to poured into attack ads during campaign season.
With work still to be done, Nolan says he is able to look back on his career fondly.
“We’ve gotten a lot of good things done for the economy, for many of the individuals, many of the communities, and we’ve tried to be the best that we could be, and I feel good about that,” he said.
Nolan added he is working with Republican Representative-elect Pete Stauber as he transitions into the same seat.
Nolan said Stauber has already expressed interest in some of Nolan’s legislative priorities.