Politics

Minnesota DFL Makes No Endorsement to Succeed Nolan

Leah Phifer and Joe Radinovich had the most support, but none reached required 60 percent

Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., initially endorsed former state Rep. Joe Radinovich but then said he would reserve judgment when no candidate earned the party's endorsement to succeed him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After 10 hours of deliberation, delegates for the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party voted not to endorse any candidate to run for the seat Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan is vacating.

None of the five candidates running to succeed Nolan for the 8th District seat  were able to reach the required 60 percent of support to receive the state party’s endorsement, MinnPost reported.

After the first round of ballots for the convention, North Branch Mayor Kristen Kennedy and Michelle Lee were out of the running after failing to crack 5 percent.

That left state Rep. Jason Metsa with 20 percent, former state Rep. Joe Radinovich with 26.5 percent, and former FBI counterterrorism analyst Leah Phifer with 44 percent.

Phifer had an advantage of being in the race longer, having initially hoped to challenge Nolan in the primary  before Nolan announced he would not seek re-election in February.

But Phifer faced crticisim from the DFL’s Latino caucus for her past tenure as an employee of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Members of the caucus urged delegates not to vote for Phifer’s candidacy.

Eventually, Radinovich’s campaign got a boost when it was announced Nolan, who was not at the convention, endorsed him.

But by the end of the convention, neither Phifer or Radinovich earned the majority of the vote.

Nolan’s office released a statement to KBJR saying he rescinded his endorsement of Radinovich and would wait until the primary before throwing his support to a candidate.

“The convention had narrowed down to two candidates and of those two, Congressman Nolan expressed his preference for Joe Radinovich,” the statement said. “Going forward, he will reserve judgment until he sees who decides to run in the primary.”

In a year with a slew of Republican retirements, Minnesota’s 8th District is one of the few open seat potential pickups for the GOP.

Despite Nolan narrowly winning in 2016, Donald Trump carried his district by more than 15 points.

Pete Stauber is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination and Democrats worry that their division could allow Stauber to win the seat.

“If we come out of here divided, we’re not going to win,” DFL Chairman Ken Martin said at the convention.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Minnesota’s 8th District as Toss-up.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.