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Former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is running for Minnesota’s 8th district

Boundaries dividing Minnesota’s Congressional districts have shifted around Rick Nolan since he served in the U.S. House of Representatives three decades ago, but Nolan said the values of the region that first sent him to Congress haven’t changed.

“We’re all about mining and forestry and tourism and community—we feel very strongly that we’re all in this together,” Nolan told the Minnesota Independent. ”We need to establish the fact that people matter more than big corporations and Wall Street bankers and pharmaceutical insurance companies.”

On Wednesday, former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who served three terms from the old 6th Congressional District, officially announced his candidacy for the DFL endorsement to take on Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.

Nolan, who has run a sawmill and worked as CEO of the Minnesota World Trade Center, said he didn’t expect to run for office again, but was motivated by recent events like the economic crisis and Republican threats to the social safety net.

“People are painfully aware that the rich are just getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and the middle class is getting decimated,” Nolan said. “We need to rebuild America and reestablish the middle class in this country.”

Nolan sees the 2010 election of Cravaack, who has sided with Republicans on issues like Social Security reform, as an aberration caused by low Democratic turnout in the traditionally DFL region.

“I sense that Cravaack, having never served in the state or local or federal government in the past is not very well prepared for his work in the Congress,” the Crow Wing County native said. “Having been away from the district most of his life, and not having grown up here, I think he’s pretty much out of tune with the values and expectations of people here in the district, for example, his vote on the [U.S. Rep. Paul] Ryan budget.”

Nolan is facing two officially declared rivals for the DFL endorsement, both of whom reside in Duluth: former state Rep. Tarryl Clark, who moved to Duluth to run for the seat, and Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson. Nolan said his rivals have “both served honorably” and “are wonderful people.” Nolan earned the endorsement of state Rep. Ryan Winkler in May, who has also considering a run at the seat. Nolan plans to abide by the DFL endorsement.

Nolan, who has appearances planned across the 8th District in coming weeks, said he’s “in it to win it” and welcomes the chance to get back on the campaign trail. ”My wife says she hasn’t seen me this energized in a long time,” he said. “Maybe she just wants me out of the house.”

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