Almanac debate sharpens approaching MN-8 DFL primary

On Friday night the DFL candidates for Congress in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District debated on TPT’s statewide news magazine Almanac.

If you missed the debate, I encourage you to watch it below. Hosts Cathy Wurzer and Eric Eskola took candidates Rick Nolan, Jeff Anderson and Tarryl Clark through a series of questions about some of the top issues in the campaign, which hurtles toward an Aug. 14 DFL primary.

Though it was only 15 minutes, the candidates did manage to show some separation on more than just style, but a couple issues as well. The embedded debate video is below:

So many fascinating details in this debate.

  • Nolan introduced his major mining and environment institute idea this week, but didn’t mention in here. 
  • Anderson was the only one to endorse the Cravaack mining amendment, but took a left hook from Nolan as a result in one of Nolan’s best moments. 
  • Anderson’s passion in trimming mining regulations for job creation probably helped him among Range voters who see this. Did it hurt him elsewhere?
  • Clark had the best answer about economic development and job creation outside of mining. She probably scored lowest on her personal connection to northern Minnesota and its history. She still just struggles to fight the outsider image and is often short on specifics. Don’t get me wrong; this is politics and everyone is short on specifics some of the time, but she had to be pushed for an answer at least twice by the hosts.
  • All three suggested revisions to the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” Nolan and Clark in the direction of single-payer coverage and Anderson less specifically toward efficiencies. 
  • All three conceded the endorsement of the NRA by agreeing that the assault rifle ban should be reinstated. In the end that won’t be a shock, because the NRA would certainly have endorsed Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN8), the incumbent, anyway. But the DFL has enjoyed having an NRA-endorsed candidate in this seat for a long time. It’s good for some votes here.
  • Oh, and Cravaack was hardly mentioned. He didn’t take nearly as many punches as you’d expect. So in that regard, GOP operatives were surely pleased with this debate, as they certainly are with this protracted primary fight. Cravaack gets a full interview on next week’s Almanac.
  • I’d score this debate in Nolan’s favor, particularly for the primary electorate. Anderson did well and Clark did herself no damage. But time is ticking away. Just three weeks to go. Impressions formed now will stick. These candidates are out working the district. We will soon find out whose strategies were best conceived.

I’ll be on Twin Cities AM 950’s LeftMN Radio Hour with Aaron Klemz this afternoon from 2-3 p.m. talking about this debate and what lies ahead in MN-8. Tune in if you’re down there or catch the archive at LeftMN. I don’t do partisan radio often (or AM for that matter, sheesh), but when I do it’s for the classy guys at LeftMN.

And if you would like another chance to see these candidates debate issues at greater length you can see another debate in Grand Rapids, Minnesota at 7 p.m. Thursday evening, July 26, at the Davies Theater on the campus of Itasca Community College. The event is sponsored by the Itasca Working Families Alliance and is open to the public.

I’ve resumed talks with Rep. Chip Cravaack’s office and we are now looking to do the MinnesotaBrown interview with him after the primary. I am looking forward to that, as I’m sure are the many conservatives kind enough to read this blog despite my Red Finn heritage and public radio-producin’ ways.


  1. You mention the NRA but not MCCL which was part of the same question. Another sign of why the DFL is much weaker up here than it used to be.

  2. Well, these candidates are all pro-choice, so it stands to reason that they wouldn’t have the MCCL endorsement. Oberstar was pro-life and held the endorsement a long time. I think the district has gotten used to running pro-choice DFLers over the years. But yes, one of the reasons that Oberstar enjoyed bigger margins of victory in his prime was that he was able to win more pro-life votes. I don’t think anyone is getting 65-70 percent in this election, though.

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