Some Minnesota Democrats see shades of 2008 in former President Bill Clinton’s endorsement choice in the Eighth District congressional race.
Clinton announced Friday that he was throwing his support behind Tarryl Clark, one of three Democrats vying for a chance to run against first-term incumbent Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack in November.
Clark was an enthusiastic supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. The endorsed DFL candidate in the race, Rick Nolan…was not.
“There’s a lot of politics involved in these things,” said Nolan spokesman Michael Misterek. “Rick was Obama’s spokesman in Minnesota.”
Misterek noted that Nolan has been endorsed by the entire Minnesota DFL congressional caucus, as well as former Rep. Jim Oberstar, who represented the Eighth District seat for 35 years.
“We have an enormous amount of respect for the former president,” he said. “The most important thing is the amount of support Rick has inside Minnesota.”
Asked for comment, Clark’s camp pointed out that Nolan was actually a Chris Dodd supporter while Clark was endorsing Hillary Clinton’s run.
Clinton’s endorsement comes just days before he is scheduled to come to Minnesota to headline the Humphrey-Mondale Dinner and fundraiser for the DFL. Nevertheless, state party leaders are standing behind the party’s endorsed candidate, Nolan.
"We're very confident that that the people of northern Minnesota have chosen the right candidate in Rick Nolan," said DFL spokeswoman Kate Monson. “The most important thing is that we have a candidate who can defeat Chip Cravaack…We are very excited about Rick Nolan.”
The Minnesota Republican Party, meanwhile, reacted to the dueling endorsements with undisguised glee. A GOP press release described Clinton’s endorsement of Clark as an “out-of-stater” endorsing an “out-of-towner” – a reference to Clark’s decision to move to the Eighth District to challenge Cravaack.
“The question ‘what the heck is going on in the 8th Congressional District Democrat primary’ just got more interesting now that former President Clinton endorsed Taryl Clark against the 8th Congressional District DFL’s endorsed candidate, Rick Nolan," Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman Pat Shortridge said in a statement.