Rep. Nolan: Waiting on Biden

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., said he’s waiting to back a candidate for president in 2016.

Nolan, who signed on to a super PAC backing Hillary Clinton last year, was noticeably absent when Clinton’s campaign released a list of Minnesota supporters earlier this month.

One reason is that Nolan is waiting to see whether Vice President Joe Biden gets into the race.

“I have not made a decision yet on who I’m going to support, and I won’t until I see who all is in the race and I see how they’re performing,” Nolan said.

When asked whether he was waiting to see whether Biden gets in, Nolan said “Yeah.”

Nolan, however, stopped short of backing Biden if he does get in the race. He said he expects to make a decision by November or early December.

Nolan isn’t the only Minnesota House Democrat who has not backed a candidate for president. DFL U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum and Collin Peterson have also not declared who they support.

Biden campaigned for Nolan in Duluth and on the Iron Range in 2014’s hotly contested 8th Congressional District race between Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills.

The two are running against each other again in 2016.

Mills formally entered the race Tuesday, although he’s been saying for weeks that he’s running.  Mills said he expects to do better next year against Nolan than he did last year, because there won’t be races for U.S. Senate or governor on the ballot. He said Nolan was helped by a top of the ticket that featured Democrats Al Franken and Mark Dayton in 2012.

“Nothing exists in a vacuum and at the end of the day, Rick Nolan rode Al Franken’s coattails to victory. This time it’s going to be different,” Mills said. “Once every 12 years, we have an election where we have no statewide races. So it will be between Rick Nolan and myself and, of course, the top of the ticket, which is the presidential.”

Nolan said he’s confident he can win again in 2016. He’s predicting a lot more Democratic voters will turn out next year because of the presidential contest.

“We expect there will be at least 90,000 more voters here in the 8th District [in 2016,] ” Nolan said. “Many of them, in fact the majority of them, will be Democrats.”

The possible sale of the Fleet Farm retail stores could also have an impact on the race.

MPR News reported this week that the potential sale of the stores has created some apprehension in Brainerd.

When asked about the possible sale, Mills said it had nothing to do with his decision to run again. He also said there “have been no new developments” since the news of the possible sale first ran in the Brainerd Dispatch.