Nolan defeated incumbent Chip Cravaack (R) in the November 2012 election.
Returning to Congress in 2013 after more than 32 years Nolan represents Minnesota’s sprawling 8th District – 18 counties that run from the top of the state’s Duluth/Lake Superior Arrowhead region, through some of the nation’s richest mining, timber, lakes and tourist country, to the fast-growing northern suburbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Rick Nolan grew up in Brainerd, Minnesota on the Cuyuna Range in the heart of the state’s lake country. His father, Hank, was a postal worker. His mother, Mary, was a homemaker who supplemented the family income in the area resort industry.
A father of 4 and grandfather of 10, Rick has been married to Mary Nolan for 28 years.
Nolan worked his way through the University of Minnesota as a proud Local 638 UPS Teamster, and later taught high school social studies in Royalton, Minnesota. He directed the North Central Minnesota 19-unit Head Start program and was curriculum coordinator for the Little Falls Adult Education program. He did post-graduate work at St. Cloud State University, Central Lakes College and the University of Maryland.
Our Revolution endorsement
He began his public service in 1968, representing Morrison County in the Minnesota House of Representatives for 2 terms. At 24, he was one of the youngest people ever to serve in the Minnesota Legislature.
Rick Nolan was elected to Congress from Minnesota’s 6th District, which then encompassed 22 central and southwestern counties, in 1974, arriving in Washington as part of a record number of new Members at the onset of the post-Watergate era.
During his 3 terms from 1975-1981, he was recognized nationwide for his battles on behalf of working families, farmers, small businesses and rural communities. Rick Nolan was honored during those years to be named a “Most Respected Member of Congress” by syndicated columnist Jack Anderson in his widely read column, “Congress Watch.”
Return to the Private sector
Rick decided to leave Congress in 1980 to spend more time with his young family and pursue private business. In the ensuing years, he devoted much of his professional energy to generating Minnesota jobs through exports and trade. Establishing his own business, U.S. Export Corporation, he worked with then Minnesota Governor Rudy Perpich to build and operate the Minnesota World Trade Center in downtown St. Paul. He later served as president of the Minnesota World Trade Center Corporation and chaired the International Association of World Trade Centers’ Trade and Policy Committee, the world’s largest private sector international trade group.
Rick is also the former owner of Emily Wood Products, a small sawmill and pallet factory in the northern Minnesota community of Emily. He successfully built the business and generated good jobs in the area.
Continuing his public service, Rick became chairman of his local Mission Township Planning Committee, and chairman of the Central Lakes College Foundation, raising money for disadvantaged students of all ages.
The Chile letter
On August 1 1979 Thirty-five U.S. Congressmen signed a letterto President Jimmy Carter demanding that private bank loans to Chile be barred unless the Chilean government chose to extradite three military officials, including the former director of the Chilean intelligence service. The three had been indicted for complicity in the assassination of marxist Unidad Popular government member and KGB agent Orlando Letelier and the killing of Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) staffer Ronni Moffitt in 1976.
In May 1978 the Chief Justice of the Chilean Supreme Court rejected the U.S. request for extradition.
Chief sponsor of the letter was Rep. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who was joined by Congressmen John Burton (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Robert Kastenmeier (D-WI), Ron Dellums (D-CA), Berkley Bedell (D-IA), Richard Ottinger (D-NY), Fred Richmond (D-NY), Robert Drinan (D-MA), Leon Panetta (D-CA), Don Edwards (D-CA); Norman Mineta (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA}, Anthony Beileson (D-CA) George Brown (D-CA), Toby Moffett (D-CT), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Eugene Atkinson (D-PA), Michael Barnes (D-MD), David Bonior (D-MI), Adam Benjamin (D-IN), William Brodhead (D-MI), Robert Carr (D-MI), Tom Daschle (D-SD), Tom Downey (D-NY), Harold Hollenbeck (R-NJ), Pete Kostmayer (D-PA), Stewart McKinney (R-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Andrew Maguire (D-NJ) Richard Nolan (DFL-MN), Gerry Studds (D-MA), Bruce Vento (DFL-MN) and Howard Wolpe (D-MI).
The Harkin letter characterized the Chilean government as "an enemy of the American people" and urged the President to "take strong action against this terrorist government." The letter was released (9 A.M. on August 1 1979) at the same time a press statement from the Washington, DC, Chile Legislative Center of the National Coordinating Center in Solidarity with Chile, staffed by veterans of the Venceremos Brigade and the Communist Party USA, supported the Congressional letter and urged pressure so that the State Department does not accept a military trial of the three Chileans in Chile as a substitute for extradition and trial in the US.
Fishing with Castro?
In 1977, Nolan and New York Rep. Frederick Richmond traveled to Cuba to secure the release of American prisoners. Nolan personally lobbied Fidel Castro and the two bonded over a shared love of fishing. After agreeing to release the prisoners, Castro invited Nolan to return to Cuba for a fishing trip.
Rep Nolan praised Fidel Castro for the “great progress” in Cuban life, calling it nothing short of “dramatic.”
Nolan struck up such a great friendship that Castro even invited him back to Cuba for a deep-sea fishing excursion. Nolan later bragged, “We were told that Castro doesn’t extend these invitations unless he really means it.”
December 7, 1977, the New York Times printed this photo of Rick Nolan's trip to Cuba to negotiate with Fidel Castro for the release of five American political prisoners on the front page.
- For the last 30 years, a number of us have been calling for a resumption of U.S. diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba. Last week’s announcement that the U.S. will finally and fully re-engage with that island nation - just ninety miles from our shores - held special significance for many of us. I first traveled there as Member of Congress in 1977 to negotiate with Fidel Castro for the release of the last five American political prisoners still languishing for 17 years in a Cuban prison since the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.
- During that trip in 1977, we were also able to negotiate a goodwill exchange program between the University of Minnesota and Havana schools of agriculture. It was viewed in many circles as an important step toward reconciliation between our two nations, thus moving us towards a normal diplomatic relations.
- Yet during the negotiation session that lasted through the night and into the next morning, after agreeing to the prisoner release, Castro predicted it would take another thirty years for the U.S. and Cuba to resume normal diplomatic relations. I thought him overly pessimistic at the time, but he proved to be correct.
- Next year, I hope to return to Cuba to meet again with top officials in Havana to discuss new trade opportunities that will lead to more good-paying jobs for Minnesota and for our region. Of course I will keep you posted on our plans. .
Several northeastern Minnesota labor leaders, including presidents of three major union organizations, called a press conference Thursday to announce that they are uniting behind one candidate seeking the DFL endorsement for 8th district congress: Rick Nolan An early endorsement from key labor leaders is rare in an 8th district race. Yet Duluth AFL-CIO Central Labor Body President Dan O’Neill, Carlton County Labor Body President Mike Kuitu, and Iron Range Labor Assembly President Tom Cvar called on all labor to join them in lining up behind the former 6th district congressman, referring to Nolan as a “champion for working people” who is the one candidate who can defeat Rep. Chip Cravaack and the Tea Party.
O’Neill spoke to Nolan’s past experience as a three-term congressman, citing his staunch support of organized labor as well as his reputation as an effective leader.
Joining O’Neil, Kuiti and Cvar in encouraging others to join them in their early support of Nolan were several other labor leaders including former Central Labor Body President George Sundstrom, Duluth Central Labor Body Vice-President Al Netland and Erik Peterson, director of the Wellstone Action labor training program. Peterson explained his support:
- Nolan is running because he really cares about regular folks and will fight for jobs. I’m here because we need champions like Rick Nolan
21st Century Democrats support
21st Century Democrats is a Political Action Committee that has stood for Progressive causes for over 20 years. Founded in 1986 by Institute for Policy Studies affiliate, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, Democratic Socialists of America affiliates, former Texas Agriculture Secretary Jim Hightower, and former Illinois Congressman Lane Evans. Its three main goals are to help elect progressive candidates, train young people about grassroots organizing, and lastly, to continue to support our elected officials after Election Day "through our comprehensive progressive network".
Carol Moseley Braun, a former US Senator from Illinois, and long time Communist Party USA affiliate, serves on the organization's Advisory Board. Long time Board chair was Democratic Socialists of America member Jim Scheibel, a former Mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The mission of 21st Century Democrats is to build a "farm team" of progressive populists who will be the future leaders of the Democratic Party.
- In each election cycle, we endorse a diverse array of candidates who exemplify our values and show unusual promise to advance our progressive goals. We invest in some of the most competitive races as well as in some of the most challenging – those in which the candidates are outstanding but the traditional Democratic supporters are most reticent. We back candidates in primaries as well as general election races, and we focus the bulk of our resources on electing challengers and protecting vulnerable incumbents.
Nolan was one of 12 key progressives endorsed by 21st Century Democrats in the 2012 election cycle. Rick Nolan was one of 12 progressives endorsed by 21st Century Democrats in the 2016 election cycle.
2012 CLW House victories
2012 Council for a Livable World House Victories were;
Ron Barber (D-AZ), Ami Bera (D-CA), Tim Bishop (D-NY) Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Bruce Braley (D-IA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Lois Capps (D-CA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Joe Garcia (D-FL), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Denny Heck (D-WA), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Patrick Murphy (D-FL), Rick Nolan (D-MN), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Brad Schneider(D-IL), Carol Shea-Porter(D–NH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ),Mark Takano(D-CA) and John Tierney(D-MA)..
The Council said of Nolan;
- Rick Nolan represented Minnesota in Congress for eight years in the 1970s. Running on a platform of opposition to the Vietnam War, he was first elected in 1974, one of a wave of Democratic freshman seeking to reform the political system in the wake of the Watergate scandal. In Congress, Nolan was a passionate advocate of reforming U.S. foreign and defense policies. He worked to decrease the U.S. military footprint abroad, opposed aid to Nicaragua under the brutal Somoza regime and opposed clandestine efforts by the C.I.A. to prop up corrupt dictators in the name of opposing communism.
- Nolan retired from Congress in 1980 to pursue a successful career in the private sector. Disturbed by the divisive rhetoric of the Tea Party and other right wing conservatives, he has decided to reenter public service and is running for Congress in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.
- Rick Nolan is a liberal’s liberal. He first won the House seat in 1974 on an anti-Vietnam war platform. He continues to oppose what he labels “wars of choice” that turn into tragic mistakes, such as our intervention in Iraq. He says it is time to extract U.S. troops from Afghanistan and has offered House floor amendments to cut back spending in Afghanistan.
- He has said, “America has become deeply and dangerously involved in a thousand-year-old sectarian conflict where we have been on every side at one time or another – where we have no friends – and where our participation has resulted in the loss of thousands of precious lives and expenditures of trillions of dollars.”
- Rick strongly agrees that nuclear war is one of the most critical issues. Since returning to Congress, Rick has received a 100% and a 92% on the Council voting scorecard.
Mike Misterek, Chief of Staff
In his new role, Misterek will supervise overall operations in Nolan’s Washington, D.C. office, as well as District field offices. “Over the past 15 months I have come to know and deeply respect Mike for his extraordinary leadership skills as well as his dedication to the principles that guided our campaign to restore the middle class, solve problems and get things done. Now I look forward to working with him to assemble a team of capable, experienced and knowledgeable people to help me get things done in Washington,” Nolan said.
Misterek is a founding partner in Twin Cities-based Strategic Field Concepts, LLC, where he managed advocacy campaigns focusing on Medicare, telecommunications, rural broadband expansion and voter outreach. He has worked on previous congressional campaigns and on the 2008 Obama for America campaign. He has also served as political director for the Minnesota Health & Housing Alliance and, early in his career, worked as a staff intern for U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone.
Misterek is a 2003 graduate of the University of St. Thomas (Saint Paul, MN).
In January 2013, former Minnesota State Rep. Tom Rukavina, who recently retired after 26 years in the legislature “because it was the right time to leave,” is getting back into politics. Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan has hired fellow Democrat Rukavina to be one of his district liaisons.
Congressional Progressive Caucus
It was a great day for our endorsed candidates and a worse than expected day for Democrats overall. All of our Board Members: Representatives Ellison, Grijalva, Conyers, Lee, and McGovern won! Our House Champions: Representatives Grayson, Schakowsky, Pocan and Nolan won! Future Progressive Champions:Ted Lieu and Bonnie Watson Coleman won!
Lifting travel ban on Cuba
- Due to your action/emails/phone calls we have 59 signatures from House representatives urging President Obama to support travel to Cuba by granting general licenses for ALL current categories of travel.
- By eliminating the laborious license application process, especially for people-to-people groups, that is managed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the majority of the bureaucratic red tape that holds up licensable travel to Cuba would disappear and actually facilitate what the President wanted to see in 2011, liberalized travel regulations.
Signatories included Rep. Rick Nolan .
Peace Action support
In the 2014 mid terms, six of the eight pro-peace candidates in battlegrounds that Peace Action prioritized won election: Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Al Franken (MN), Gary Peters (MI), Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and House members Mike Honda (CA) and Rick Nolan (MN). [The two who lost Bruce Braley (IA) and Carol Shea-Porter (NH).]
Lobbied by Minnesota Peace Project
In 2014 seven Minnesota Peace Project members from across the state went to Washington DC to meet with 9 out of 10 Minnesota members of Congress or their foreign policy aides. We explored our differences on key foreign policy issues such as military budget, nuclear disarmament, and support for ongoing negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. The team had lengthy second meetings with both Senators’ staff.
The CD8 Team met with Rep. Nolan in his Duluth office asking him to make a public statement supporting negotiations with Iran & calling for a cease-fire in Gaza..
ARA PAF endorsement, 2014
Conservatives and Republicans in Minnesota objected to Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan putting on a fundraiser featuring an appearance by the Peter, Paul and Mary singer who pleaded guilty years ago to taking "immoral and indecent liberties" with a 14-year-old girl.
The event was scheduled to take place April 25 at Bowery Brothers Pub in Duluth, but was canceled by the Nolan campaign, after Yarrow's history was made public by Republican opponents.
Minnesota congressman Rick Nolan, who has long advocated for changes to the United States' Cuba policy says a decision to normalize relations with the island country is a "monumental step" in the right direction.
Nolan praised President Obama's announcement that the U.S. would re-establish diplomatic ties to Cuba. Nolan traveled to Cuba in 1977 during his first stint in Congress and was involved in a past deal to release U.S. prisoners held there.
Nolan says he hopes to travel to Cuba in 2015 to meet with officials there.
August 2015, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson called the recent vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) a “disappointing, knee-jerk overreaction” and urged the U.S. Senate to continue its thoughtful handling of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute. Johnson also noted that NFU will work with Congress on a clear path forward that will both resolve the WTO dispute and continue to provide consumers with accurate information about the origin of their food. “The House leadership is not interested in any reasonable solutions and blocked all amendments.” Johnson noted that in past disputes, WTO members found ways to work together to arrive at a resolution that worked for all parties. “Unfortunately, today’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives does not work towards a resolution that maintains the integrity of COOL and satisfies WTO obligations. “We call upon the U.S. Senate to avoid the rush to judgment demonstrated by the House today and work with COOL supporters on a viable alternative that will finally bring this long process to closure,” he said. Johnson said family farmers and ranchers across the country appreciated the work of: Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota; Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut; Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts; Chellie Pingree, D-Maine; Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio; Rick Nolan, D-Minnesota; Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky; Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon; Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas; and others who stood strong for COOL and the right to know the origin of our food. “We greatly appreciate their continued willingness to stand up for America’s consumers and farm families,” said Johnson.
2016 Cuba trip
PDA 2016 endorsements
In 2016 Progressive Democrats of America endorsed;
- Sen. Bernie Sanders - President
- Rep. Alan Grayson - Senate (FL)
- Rep. Donna Edwards - Senate (MD)
- Jamie Raskin - US House (MD08)
- Tim Canova - US House (FL-23)
- Bao Nguyen - US House (CA46)
- Nanette Barragan - US House (CA44)
- Rep. Keith Ellison (MD05)
- Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ03)
- Rep. John Conyers (MI13)
- Rep. Barbara Lee (CA13)
- Rep. Jim McGovern (MA02)
- Rep. Mark Pocan (WI02)
- Rep. Rick Nolan (MN08)
- Rep. Hank Johnson - US House (GA05)
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL09)
Supporting Keith Ellison
Post election meeting
Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan’s been hearing the same question a lot these days: “How did you do that?” His campaign estimates that 58,000 voters in Minnesota’s 8th District split their ticket between him and Trump. That allowed Nolan to win the district by less than a point, while Trump won by an estimated 16 points.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor congressman spoke up at a November 2016 post election meeting about the economic anxiety many white, middle-class Americans are feeling for the first time and how that may have driven them from the party.
“Democrats need to acknowledge that anxiety that is out there and then put together a message that gets us back to where we were. But in a way that’s inclusive for everybody,” Nolan said. “And if we do that, we’ll win.”
Rick Nolan’s was the most expensive House race in the country in 206, attracting millions of dollars in outside spending. He doesn’t fault House Democratic leadership for this year’s failures in other districts. “It was at the top of the ticket,” he said.
“To just run an anti-Trump campaign as opposed to, ‘Here we are, here’s our fix to these trade deals,’” Nolan said.
Trade is an especially important issue in Nolan’s district, which is home to the mining region known as the Iron Range, and many of the working-class Rust-Belt regions in which Democrats underperformed.
“I’m for trade, but not this free trade. It’s gotta be fair trade. And Trump seems to have gotten that. And the American people got that,” said Nolan, who backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. He thinks Clinton’s about-face on the Trans-Pacific Partnership had a lasting impact.
“People didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. They understood what was going on there,” he said.
What Nolan did — pick and choose the parts of the national party message that resonated in his district — is what more candidates need to do, some members said .
Chatting with Communist
Medicare For All Congressional Caucus founders
In August 2018 Medicare For All Congressional Caucus founding members included Representative Rick Nolan.
- National Journal "The New Faces of the 113th Congress," November 15, 2012
- Official congressional bio, accessed Nov. 27, 2013
- Official congressional bio, accessed Nov. 27, 2013
- Our Revolution; Our Candidates, accessed October 27, 2016
- Berniecrats, accessed August 24
- Official congressional bio, accessed Nov. 27, 2013
- Official congressional bio, accessed Nov. 27, 2013
- Information Digest August 10 1979 p 244
- CLW bio, accessed July 10, 2013
- risingPac.org#TBT: Rick Nolan Celebrates Normalizing Relations With Ol’ Pal Castro
- http://nolan.house.gov/the-monday-report Rick Nolan The Monday Report, After 53 Years – Reconnecting With Cuba]
- MN Progressive project, MN08: Labor Leaders Unite Behind Rick Nolan by KEEWATINROSE on OCTOBER 14, 2011
- 21st Century Democrats website, About us]
- 21st Century Democrats 2012 bio
- Meet the Candidates, accessed April 10, 2013
- CLW bio, accessed July 10, 2013
- [Nolan Press release https://www.facebook.com/RickNolanForCongress/posts/472621632776273 Rick Nolan For Congress November 30, 2012]
- Uptake, Former Rep. Rukavina Returns To the Fray By: MICHAEL MCINTEE | January 26, 2013
- CPC website, members, accessed Jan. 15, 2013
- PDA May 2013 Educate Congress Digest Letter drops (191 in total – 105 in April )
- http://www.pdamerica.org/about-us/itemlist/tag/Bonnie%20Watson%20Coleman PDA Wednesday, 05 November 2014 00:00 Congratulations to the Winners!]
- Update on Cuba Travel: We Gathered 59 Signatures, The LAWG Cuba Team: Mavis, Emily and Karina on May 03, 2013
- CPUSA wbsite.2014 elections: Keep our eyes on the prize by: Joelle Fishman November 10 2014
- Minnesota Peace Project, 2014 Highlights
- washington Examiner, GOP bashes Minnesota's Rick Nolan for appearance by Peter, Paul and Mary's Peter Yarrow BY BETSY WOODRUFF | APRIL 16, 2014
- Minnesota's Nolan praises Cuba policy, plans trip Associated Press, Associated Press 1:29 p.m. EST December 17, 2014
- Minnesota farmers Union, Legislative Notes from the MN Farmers Union 8-18-15
- Voice of America, Who's Aboard Air Force One to Cuba? March 20, 2016
- PDA endorsed candidates, accessed April 17, 2016
- Roll call, House Democrats Begin Long Soul-Searching Process Party is optimistic about making gains in 2018, Nov 17, 2016 5:00 AM, Simone Pathé