LIVE: Watch ONLY debate in MN’s Eighth District

Nolanzilla vs. Mills Kong

Nolanzilla vs. Mills Kong

Today at 10 a.m., the Duluth News Tribune and Duluth Chamber of Commerce host the only scheduled debate between U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8) and Republican challenger Stewart Mills.

National analysts describe MN-8 as a swing district. The contest started the year leaning toward the incumbent Nolan. In recent weeks, however, we’ve observed uncertainty over Iron Range economic issues and the rise of Donald Trump among some 8th District voters.

Mine bosses and the Steelworkers widely credit Nolan for his success in spurring the foreign steel tariffs that helped restart two idled taconite plants on the Iron Range. However, Mills and other Republicans continue to attack Nolan for his party’s consideration of an anti-copper mining resolution, which Nolan opposes.

You can watch the Eighth Congressional District debate LIVE here at MinnesotaBrown, thanks to the citizen journalists at The Uptake:

I was on AM 950 in the Twin Cities with Uptake co-founder Mike McIntee last week. We talked about MN-8 and the impact of presidential politics on the race.

You can listen to that interview here (my segment is at the 0:23 mark).

One of the interesting things about the 2016 Nolan-Mills rematch is the limited access to Mills. This debate today is the only meeting of the two candidates. Mills doesn’t do many live interviews and rarely appears outside of scheduled campaign activities with friendly audiences.

Thus Nolan will only have one chance to land some punches on the Republican challenger, who is playing a conservative strategy seemingly designed to avoid mistakes.

Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District is going through demographic and political change. Once a predictable DFL fortress, the district now stands as an unpredictable swing district. As I discussed in the interview with McIntee, Nolan’s fortunes will be at least partially tied to the presidential race.

In truth, MN-8 is a fading giant. The 2020 census and 2022 redistricting will likely reduce Minnesota’s number of congressional districts to seven. How the new MN-7 is drawn will greatly remake the congressional politics of this region.


  1. Not all “mine bosses” credit Nolan.

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