Eighth District Congressman Rick Nolan announced on Friday that he will retire from the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of his current term. The 74-year-old DFL congressman has represented the Eighth District since 2012 and had indicated he planned to seek re-election. But he has faced an endorsement challenge from former FBI analyst Leah Phifer, who attracted substantial support during Tuesday's caucuses.
Nolan also has a daughter who is reportedly seriously ill. In his announcement, Nolan said he planned to spend more time with his family, including 13 grandchildren.
Nolan was widely seen as among the most vulnerable Democrats in the country in the 2018 election, and Friday's announcement reshapes the race for the DFL. Both the Democratic and Republican congressional campaign committees were quick to respond to Nolan's decision with statements. “Rick Nolan has served the people of Minnesota with dignity, independence and grit, and I am deeply grateful for his service," said DCCC Chair Ben Ray Lujan. “Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District is a Democratic seat, and that certainly will not change in 2018. We look forward to electing another Democrat to represent the hardworking people of northern Minnesota, who can carry on Rick’s legacy.”
Republicans, meanwhile, called Nolan out of touch and said his decision will make it easier for the GOP to win the seat in November. “Rick Nolan, too liberal and out of step with his deep red district, saved us the trouble of defeating him this fall," said NRCC Communications Director Matt Gorman.
Nolan challenger Leah Phifer also issued a statement, lauding Nolan's longstanding support for single-payer health coverage and campaign finance reform. "Congressman Nolan’s retirement presents a unique opportunity to unite the DFL in the 8th District," said Phifer in her statement. "I’ve been traveling the district the past eight months, hearing from many DFLers concerned about the future of our district. I look forward to uniting us around our core values of economic justice, human rights and environmental protections.”