MN-08 DFL candidates share opening thoughts on congressional race

Four Minnesota Democrats seeking the endorsement of their party are participating in an online forum today at 11:30a.m. hosted by MPR News.

MN-08 DFL candidate forum

The DFL’s 8th District nominee will attempt to unseat Freshman Republican Chip Cravaack.

Jeff Anderson, Tarryl Clark, Daniel Fanning and Rick Nolan have started raising money and gathering endorsements in this large and varied district. Outside interest groups eager to influence voters in the district have already spent money on TV ads. Democrats hope to reclaim the seat held for decades by Rep. Jim Oberstar (D). Oberstar was the longest serving member of Congress from Minnesota when he lost to Cravaack in 2010.

As fast as politics and communication strategies appear to change, no candidate can escape the history of this region that continues to be defined in great part by a group of prospectors that discovered a large vein of iron ore in the Mesabi Range in the 1860s. Prospectors are eyeing up new mineral wealth in this region thirsty for new jobs, but strong concerns exist that massive new mines will compromise the wild and scenic nature that also defines the district.

Here are the opening statements from the candidates in the order they were sent to MPR News.

I’m Daniel Fanning and I’m running for Congress not only to replace Representative Cravaack, but also to help change the way we do politics in our district and country. Politics as usual isn’t working for most of us – the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. As someone who grew up poor, I’m passionately motivated to represent those of us who understand everyday struggles. As a proud Progressive, I will continue to advocate for our shared values including defending: seniors (protecting Social Security & Medicare); public education; fellow veterans; worker’s rights; women’s rights; farmers; small business owners; and other DFL principles that make our country great. I’ve been actively engaged in the Duluth community for over a decade and have already been directly working on federal issues throughout our district. I’ll hit the ground running once I’m elected! As a combat veteran, AmeriCorps alum, community organizer, non-profit coordinator for youth programs, Regional Representative for Senator Franken, and a longtime community volunteer – I have always been committed to serving others. We must reject politics and politicians as usual and start creating living wage jobs and equal opportunities for all. Let’s get the district back on track & moving forward!

Rick Nolan: People almost always ask me two questions as we meet:

“Where’s home?” Answer is, my wife Mary and I live near Crosby on the Cuyuna Range.

Then something like this: “You’ve already served three terms in Congress. You’ve spent 30 successful years in business. Why would you want to return to that mess in Washington?”

Answer is, I know I can make a real difference, starting on day one.

The other side’s declared war on the middle class. Unemployment’s nearing Great Depression levels. Social Security and Medicare are in danger. Working families, seniors, small businesses and communities need a champion. They need a problem solver and real leadership.

I’ll return with the seniority of a 4th termer. I know how to lead fights for regular people and win in Congress. I’ve done it, repeatedly.

And I know how to win elections. I won a conservative district three consecutive times by an average margin of 58%.

Rep. Cravaack is a failed experiment, completely out of touch. While voting to protect the rich and powerful, he’s voting to close our small airports, cut fire protection and kill an NLX light rail that will generate 14,000 jobs.

He needs to return home to his family in New Hampshire, and a year from now, I plan to send him there.

Tarryl Clark: I’m running because Washington needs to get it’s priorities straight. We should be focusing on creating good sustainable jobs here and making good on our promises to Seniors, Veterans and our Children.  Washington has chosen to ignore these priorities.


Congressman Cravaack is promoting the Ryan Plan, voting against important infrastructure projects and attempting to gut Medicare.  His priorities haven’t created a single job or helped working families make ends meet. 


For over the last 23 years I’ve worked to make life better for our seniors, working families, veterans, and communities throughout Central and Northeastern Minnesota. I’ve worked with labor, faith communities, nonprofits, and local leaders, to create positive change.   I’ve served as a youth minister, worked with the Girl Scouts, founded Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity, fought for Seniors as an attorney, worked with Community Action agencies throughout the region, focused on our families, and communities as a state senator, and now am national co-chair of a jobs creating campaign.


No candidate can match my passion for bringing people together and standing up for is right.  From my grassroots campaigns to being a leader in the MN Senate, I’ve been, and will continue to be, a strong voice for our priorities.

I’m Jeff Anderson, candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District. I am a fourth generation Iron Ranger – born and raised in Ely, went to college in Bemidji and Duluth, and have worked in business throughout this region for the past 15 years. I have served my nation and community as an Infantryman in the Minnesota Army National Guard for 6 years, as president of the Duluth Economic Development Authority, and as president of the Duluth City Council.

This election is about jobs and economic opportunities for the people of the 8th. I know the challenges and opportunities facing us. We need representation in Congress from someone who has spent their entire adult life in business and public service working to create jobs. The next generation of prosperity is on its way. We need a partner in Washington who will work to make that happen for the people of Minnesota.

I am proud to have earned the endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters, State Senator Roger Reinert, State Representative Carly Melin, Ely Mayor Roger Skraba, Two Harbors Mayor Randy Bolen, Cloquet Mayor Bruce Ahlgren, former State Senator’s Jerry Janezich, Ron Dicklich and others.

Rep. Cravaack has agreed to give MPR a response to the forum. His reply and candidate closing statements will be made available on this blog Tuesday night shortly after 5:00p.m.

Use #mn08 on Twitter for your hashtag as it will serve as the back channel during the debate, the best Tweets from that tag will also be pulled in occasionally into the event.

Thanks to Perfect Duluth Day, The Duluth News Tribune and The Timberjay for their help with this candidate forum.