I recently had the opportunity to interview Rick Nolan, former U.S. Rep, and current DFL candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s eighth district. I asked him five big questions relevant to his candidacy and the area’s future.
1. What made you decide to run?
Rick: We are experiencing perhaps the most dangerous and difficult times since the Great Depression, and I could no longer sit on the sidelines and watch what’s happening.
Across the Eighth District and across America, people are in desperate need of jobs and economic security. Our deficits are unsustainable. Wars of choice in the Middle East are unsustainable. The middle class working families who built this country are under assault by big corporations and special interests. Social Security is under assault by those determined to hand it over to Wall Street. Medicare is under assault by those determined to hand senior care over to big insurance companies.
Public employees are under assault by ignorant public officials who blame firefighters, waste haulers, teachers and law enforcement officers for the economic mess instead of where the blame belongs – with powerful wealthy individuals and corporations and with terribly misplaced economic priorities in Washington.
Regular people here in the Eighth need to believe they matter again in Washington. I’m a son of the Eighth. Born and raised here, with a family and a family business here. People here matter to me. That’s why I’m running.
2. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Eighth District?
Rick: As my friend Rudy Perpich used to say, it’s jobs jobs jobs. Our economy in the Eighth District – like America’s economy – won’t grow strong again until we restore income and income security to the middle class. Today, non-taxpaying multinational corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars in cash while they demand more tax cuts before they will be willing to invest that money. Obviously they don’t need more tax cuts. What they need is a middle class that can afford to buy their products. Right now, the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, the middle class is being eliminated and the incumbent Congressman, Chip Cravaack, is consistently voting to make things worse. He needs to go.
3. On the flip side, what opportunities or resources do you believe the Eighth District has that could help us moving into the future?
Rick: We’re a strong, resilient people here in the Eighth. We simply need more leaders voting for us than against us, and I’m convinced we will recover and prosper again. In terms of resources, we’re miners sitting on tremendous resources America and the world need. We’re loggers and wood workers with forests full of renewable timber for new houses when this economy recovers. At the Port of Duluth, we have the most active and attractive inland port to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, where we should be exporting more Minnesota products to the world – and generating more Minnesota jobs in return. We’re small farmers and small business owners with a never give up entrepreneurial spirit. And we’re hunters and fishermen who love our land and welcome tourists and visitors to share it during all four seasons.
In terms of opportunities, we can create and keep good jobs here in the Eighth and across America by reversing the current tax and trade policies that encourage companies to move manufacturing overseas. We create jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure, and investing in mass transit, light rail and high speed rail. We finance these policies by eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the rich and putting an end to costly wars of choice in the Middle East and an ever-expanding military empire, much of which is unnecessary for America’s national security.
4. In an already talented field of DFL candidates, what sets you apart?
Rick: Experience, both inside and outside Washington. You can’t spend 30 years in politics and business and a wide range of community volunteer activities without learning a great deal. One of the things I’ve learned is that individuals can make a difference. I wouldn’t be running for Congress if I didn’t believe I could make a difference by being there.
I’ll show up in Washington with 3 terms of seniority and a wealth of experience in business both here in the U.S. and abroad. I’ll use that experience to help enlighten and educate other Members of Congress – particularly some of those professional politicians who have never done anything in life but run for office and get re-elected.
Moreover, the T-party right wing war on the middle class – their unrelenting attacks on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public employees, unions, education, the rights of women and minorities, small farms and rural communities – requires leaders on our side of the fence with experience in the fight and an understanding of how to win. I know I have the energy and experience it takes to help lead our fight in Washington.
5. What would you say to any critics who might be hesitant about your age?
Rick: I would invite them to join me at the next Grandma’s Marathon. We’ll see who finishes with the best time.