Sanders, Nolan to campaign in Duluth Tuesday

Bernie Sanders thanks the audience after addressing a crowd at the Hibbing High School auditorium on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. (PHOTO: Wes Bailey)

Bernie Sanders thanks the audience after addressing a crowd at the Hibbing High School auditorium on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. (PHOTO: Wes Bailey)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) will campaign with U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN8) in Duluth on Tuesday evening. The pair will also make their pitch for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to Northern Minnesotans.

Sanders carried Minnesota and Nolan’s district handily at last March’s Minnesota caucuses in his unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination. Sanders, who has since endorsed Clinton, remains popular with young Democrats and the party’s liberal base. Those are voters Clinton will need to turn out on Nov. 8 as she finishes what has become a tight race with Republican Donald Trump.

As we wrote recently, Minnesota’s Eighth District stands as a complicated battleground amid the unusual political and cultural realignment of the Clinton/Trump race. In a normal presidential year, one would imagine Nolan with an advantage. But the economic and cultural blowback represented by Trump seems to have taken root in parts of the Eighth District, which could benefit Republicans.

Nolan’s Republican opponent Stewart Mills quickly issued a press release rebuke of the Congressman’s event with Sanders in support of Clinton. Nevertheless, it’s good politics for Nolan.

There isn’t a badger, blue jay or cold muddy frog in Northeastern Minnesota who hasn’t formed unshakable opinions of Trump and Clinton. The question is which blocs of voters will turn out and which will lose their nerve. The last three MN-8 elections taught us that these races are all about the base.

Let us presuppose that Trump outperforms a typical Republican presidential candidate in places like the Iron Range and Brainerd Lakes, while getting big turnout in the GOP-dominated exurbs. That might not happen to the extent that Republicans hope, but let’s say it does. What is Nolan’s hope in such a scenario?

A big walloping turnout in Duluth, that’s what. Nolan needs to clear many thousands of raw votes in the Zenith City to overcome his weaknesses elsewhere. Nolan will win the Range and other cities around the 8th, but he won’t clear the raw votes like he will in Duluth. And he needs them to overcome likely drubbings in Chisago County and places like it.

So, bring Sanders to Duluth to reengage younger voters and formerly active liberals? Sure couldn’t hurt. Some anti-Hillary, moderate-to-conservative voters won’t like it, but if they’re cranked up enough about this they were probably never Nolan voters to begin with.

Here are the details for the Tuesday rally:

Duluth Rally featuring Bernie Sanders

Featuring Rep. Rick Nolan and other Democratic candidates
Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016
7-9 p.m.
Duluth, MN
Location: TBA


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