The race for Congress from the Eighth District will quite likely be the marquee race in Minnesota next year. The incumbent Republican, freshman U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack, the first Republican to represent that district since literally 1946 (!), is deemed vulnerable. A crowded field of DFLers hopes to replace him, but first they will fight each other, apparently all the way to a primary.
There was a small or perhaps medium-sized development over the weekend, as former Congressman Rick Nolan easily won a straw poll among the members of the DFL Central Committee who were present at a fund-raiser. Most of the other candidates scoffed at the exercise and/or declined to participate. But Nolan – who served in the U.S. House for three terms in the 1970s (!) from a different district and who will represent a pretty unusual political comeback if he wins the seat – has a lot of party regular support and appears to be the frontrunner for the DFL endorsement. He is the only DFL candidate who has committed to abide by endorsement process.
Tarryl Clark, known to Minnesotans from her recent leadership position in the state Senate and her recent (unsuccessful) challenge to Michele Bachmann in 2010, is the best-funded candidate in the race and seems to be preparing for a primary run. Duluth city council member Jeff Anderson and Daniel Fanning, who recently left the staff of Sen. Al Franken to make the race, round out the field.
Of course, the race can’t really take final shape until we find out what the new boundaries of the district will be.
For a more thorough review of the state of the race, check out Minnesota Brown, who lives up there and follows this stuff closely.