A top Democrat is in Minnesota to raise cash for three of the state’s Democratic congressional candidates.
Among them is Rick Nolan, who is running in a close, expensive race against Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.
A recent KSTP/SurveyUSA poll shows Cravaack and Nolan very close.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Rep. Steve Israel says that Nolan is poised to win.
“We’ve got an outstanding candidate in Rick Nolan who’s independent, who’s about solutions, who understands how you represent workers on the Iron Range, and farmers, and families,” Israel said in an interview Saturday morning.
Cravaack, he said, hasn’t been “part of the solution,” in Washington, he’s been “part of the problem.”
“So this is a race that we feel very good about,” Israel said. “It’s a close race now, polling continues to be very close but we’re confident about it.”
Cravaack has argued that Nolan is too liberal for the district, and has criticized Nolan for supporting the new health care law, which slows the growth of Medicare spending. He has also been critical of Nolan’s record in Congress when he represented the state’s 6th District in the late 1970′s.
The DCCC raises and spends cash on behalf of select Democrats running for U.S. House. It has budgeted about $2.6 million to help Nolan win the 8th.
Outside political groups supporting Cravaack have also been spending heavily there.
For instance, this week, the American Action Network, which is a Washington, D.C., based group supporting Republicans, announced that it plans to spend an additional $500,000 on Cravaack’s race.
American Action Network is a non-profit group that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections without disclosing their donors.
Israel said the DCCC is going to “do everything that we can to make sure that we are defending against these secret super PACs. They are insidious; they keep me up at night because they will spend whatever they need to spend in order to buy this democracy.”
Nolan has seen its share of help from super PACs, too. The House Majority PAC, which is aimed at electing Democrats to the U.S. House, has spent nearly $1 million opposing Cravaack through advertising and direct mail, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) data.
Israel is also in Minnesota to help Mike Obermueller, who is running against Republican Rep. John Kline in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District.
Obermueller’s race has been on the DCCC’s Red to Blue list for some time, in part because Kline’s district became more Democratic during this year’s redistricting process, Israel said.
But the group hasn’t spent money on ads there so far, according to FEC reports.
Israel said that’s not an indication that the DCCC has given up on the race. The group has provided the Obermueller campaign with on-the-ground assistance.
Jim Graves’ campaign against Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann is also on the DCCC’s radar because polling shows Graves is gaining ground there, Israel said. He’s referring to a poll commissioned by the Graves campaign that shows Graves two percentage points behind Bachmann.
But a separate KSTP/SurveyUSA poll showed Bachmann ahead by 9 percentage points.
“It’s probably somewhere between 2 and 8 points. That tells you that something is wrong in that district for Michele Bachmann. She is an incumbent,” he said.
“It tells us that there’s a fatigue in her district with her, which makes the district worthy of our investment, our work and our support,” Israel added.
There’s some skepticism that Democrats can win back the House this year. But Israel said that the DCCC views Minnesota as a key part of their plan gain control of the House, especially in the 8th district, where Cravaack has served for two years in a region that has long been a Democratic stronghold.
“There’s no question that the longer some of these incumbents stay, the safer they become. They go Washington,” Israel said.