Radinovich to lead Nolan’s campaign

Joe Radinovich will be U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan's campaign manager in 2016.

Joe Radinovich will be U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan’s campaign manager in 2016.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8) announced that former State Rep. and IRRRB assistant commissioner Joe Radinovich would helm his re-election campaign in 2016.

This move has been in the works for some time, but the announcement was held until Radinovich had made official his departure from an administrative position at the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.

Radinovich’s career move apparently didn’t impress Mesabi Daily News editor Bill Hanna, who wrote a masterpiece of bitchy passive-aggressiveness in response. Nevertheless, as Sally Jo Sorensen at Bluestem Prairie pointed out, Hanna was light on facts in his screed. Apparently Radinovich leaving just hit Hanna real hard in the feels.

Radinovich leaves the IRRRB on a fairly high note. He was instrumental in whipping votes for the broadband project we talked about late last year. Staffer Whitney Ridlon and Deputy Commission Mary Finnegan were critical in putting that package together. So, Gov. Mark Dayton’s appointments after the last election, including commissioner Mark Phillips, did had some impact.

Yet difficult times lie ahead for the agency. This might in part explain why Radinovich left when he did. I doubt strongly he’ll be replaced in the short run. The IRRRB runs exclusively on iron mining production tax revenue, which will decline so long as the current mining downturn continues.

It’s not known how deeply the crisis will hit, but there is a strong sense the Iron Range mining economy hasn’t bottomed out yet. That means the IRRRB will have less money to work with in coming years, unless it chooses to tap into its economic development trusts, always a political challenge.

So far as Nolan’s campaign goes, Radinovich will be an able hand. Nolan faces a tough challenge in a newly-coifed version of his 2014 opponent Stewart Mills. The nature of Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District is such that presidential years lean toward the DFL but midterms are true tossups. So Nolan is favored in 2016, but the district is always volatile due to the combustible relationships between different factions within the DFL.

Another result of this announcement is that Radinovich is now unlikely to run for office this year, which is apparently what Hanna expected him to do. That means no House 10B rematch with State Rep. Dale Lueck (R-Aitkin) and no run against State Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point). The DFL now needs to dig up challengers in these presidential year swing districts.


  1. David Gray says

    I think you are correct that he will not be replaced at the IRRRB. I think it quite clear, both at the time and in retrospect, that he was placed there in order to give him a job after his defeat at the hands of Dale Lueck. The DFL seems to view him as someone with a future, that they wish to protect. The counterpoint to that though is, if he has a potent political future why isn’t he challenging Lueck to get his old seat back? Or possibly, as you obliquely note, Ruud as an alternative. His base is in Crosby-Ironton and if he is unable to compete there I’m not sure how to argue that he has a potent future. Perhaps he wishes to get ahead in the 8th District the old fashioned way. Oberstar got his seat by working for Blatnik.

  2. Jerry Latimer says

    I would like to see ads talking about Mills ties to the koch brothers and their war against unions. As a member of Carpenters Local 606, I do not want to see Minnesota become a right to work state. Voters who are union or pro union should be aware that Mills will fight like Scott Walker did to cripple the unions.I think it is urgent to get ads on TV and radio about this.Thank you for your consideration.

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