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Democrat Rick Nolan Wins Re-Election in Minnesota’s 8th District

Wins rematch against GOP’s Stewart Mills in Trump Country

Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan squeaked by Republican challenger Stewart Mills in their rematch in Minnesota's 8th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan squeaked by Republican challenger Stewart Mills in their rematch in Minnesota's 8th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic-Farmer-Labor Rep. Rick Nolan has defeated Republican Stewart Mills in their rematch in Minnesota’s 8th District, the Associated Press projects. 

Nolan led Mills 50.29 percent to 49.71 percent, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. 

[Election Results 2016]

The contest was the most expensive House race in the country. Outside groups spent big in the district, which represented one of just three chances Republicans had to knock off a Democratic incumbent this year. Looking to narrow their deficit in the House, this was a must-hold seat for Democrats.  

Minnesota’s 8th District covers the northeastern corner of the state, stretching from the Canada border to outer-ring Twin Cities suburbs in the south. It is home to the Iron Range — the once-prosperous iron ore and taconite mining region just northwest of Duluth.

The race was a rematch for Mills and Nolan, who first faced off in 2014, with the Democrat narrowly prevailing by 1.4 points. Nolan was elected to the House in 2012, though he had previously served in the chamber from 1975 to 1981. 

Coming into Election Day, the race was rated Leans Democratic by The Rothenberg & Gonzalez Political Report/Roll Call.

[In Trump Country, Democrats Fight to Defend Minnesota Seat]

In beating back Mills, Nolan appears to have also over-performed the top of the ticket. Donald Trump, now the president-elect, was expected to do well in the district — he had been leading in recent polls. 

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. recently campaigned for Nolan, in the hopes of countering Trump’s populist and anti-trade message which has resonated among working-class Democrats on the Range. 

[Biden Rallies Party Faithful in Competitive Minnesota District]

Between his two stints in Congress, Nolan held a myriad of positions, including helping to found a political action committee to advocate for rural policies, leading Minnesota World Trade Center Corp., and running a sawmill.

Nolan said he decided to run for Congress again because he saw a country in turmoil and felt compelled to step in. In Congress, he has been focused on agriculture and infrastructure issues.

Contact Bowman at and follow her on Twitter @bridgetbhc.

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