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What to watch for in the 8th District primary race

DFL voters go to the polls to pick a candidate Tuesday, but no one is ready to guess how it might turn out.

DFL congressional candidates Tarryl Clark, Rick Nolan and Jeff Anderson debate at a Duluth Chamber of Commerce event last week.
MinnPost photo by Devin Henry

“The changes in the last decade or two have made it almost a different district,” University of Minnesota history professor Hy Berman said. “Whatever has happened historically, I wonder if it has any bearing on the present day.”

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“You go mining where the mineral is,” former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, a Nolan supporter who represented the district for 36 years, said. “The mineral is on the Mesabi Range, Carlton County, Lake County, Cook County, Koochiching County, St. Louis County and Itasca County.”

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“It’s still fundamentally a DFL district,” Berman said,  “but not to the extent and degree that it was before.”

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  • Anderson emphasizes his roots in the district: “Living in northern Minnesota matters,” he said. “I think people in the 8th are looking for new, homegrown 21st century leadership that can go to Washington and represent their values and what’s important to them.”
  • Clark’s focus is firmly on Cravaack, and she goes after him for supporting Republican budget resolutions that look to reform the way Medicare is funded: “I want to go to make sure we’re actually doing things that are right for our families and communities, getting us back to be primaries in Washington.”
  • Nolan said his goal is to mobilize Democrats who either voted against Oberstar in 2010 or skipped voting altogether. “Democrats need to take a look and say, who can win this? I’ve won congressional elections. … I’ve got a pretty good feel for what people want and expect and I could win this election for the Democrats and help get this country back on track again.”