Why, after all these years, would Nolan want to return to Congress, especially after the frustrations he experienced in the 1970s?
ďThere are times when people are willing to make big changes. We are at a tipping point with wars of choice, the financial future of our entitlements, the federal budget deficit and the decimation of our middle class. This is a time when big changes are needed,Ē said Nolan, who doesnít seem to have changed his liberal bent over the years.
The former Congressman also noted that he was happy being represented by Democrat James Oberstar, who was upset by GOP challenger Chip Cravaack in November.
Nolan says he understands times have changed, and he promises a well-funded, modern campaign if he runs. But politics has changed dramatically since the 1970s.
He spent a then-impressive $212,000 on his last re-election campaign but now agrees heíll need to raise closer to $3 million than $2 million to win. According to end-of-the-year FEC figures, Cravaack spent $630,000 on his race last cycle and benefited from $332,000 in spending from the party and outside groups on his behalf. Oberstar spent $2.2 million trying to hold on to his seat.
More importantly, two other Democrats are already in the race, openly gay Duluth Councilman Jeff Anderson and EMILYís List-backed former state Sen. Tarryl Clark, a favorite of liberals who recently moved into the district after losing to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) last cycle.
To make things more interesting, Republican legislators have proposed a dramatic redrawing of the stateís Congressional lines, and Nolan, Clark and Anderson might ultimately live in the northern district of Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, not in Cravaackís central Minnesota district. Because the stateís governor is a Democrat, redistricting is likely to end up in court.
Frankly, itís hard to imagine a 67-year-old who has been active in community issues and some local politics but otherwise off the radar screen for decades succeeding in a comeback attempt against much younger politicians who have had to operate in the current political environment.
But regardless of whether Nolan runs and wins, he reminds us that age is no impediment to having ambition and the desire to play a part in molding the nationís future.
And after spending years talking with too many plastic political wannabes who parse their words and regurgitate talking points, it was more than a little refreshing talking with an old-timer who was in the middle of things in the 1970s, just walked away, and now is flirting with a comeback attempt that would be one for the record books.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.