WASHINGTON – Joe Radinovich, a former state representative, announced Thursday that he will run to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in northeastern Minnesota. The decision comes just weeks after he took the job as chief of staff to new Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
"Northeastern Minnesota is who I am, where I'm from, and what I'll always fight for," Radinovich said in a statement.
Radinovich, 31, is from Crosby. He was elected to the state House in 2012 and served one two-year term, but lost to a Republican challenger in 2014. In 2016, Radinovich managed Nolan's re-election campaign, a close race that Nolan won by just 2,009 votes in one of the most expensive and hard-fought congressional contests in the U.S.
Last year, Radinovich jumped into Minneapolis politics by managing Frey's mayoral campaign. When Frey won, he tapped Radinovich to lead his office as chief of staff.
President Donald Trump won the Eighth Congressional District by 16 points in 2016, making it a top prospect for Republicans looking to pick up seats held by Democrats. The leading Republican contender is Pete Stauber, a St. Louis County Commissioner. Radinovich joins several DFLers already in the race — Leah Phifer, a former FBI intelligence analyst and political newcomer; and North Branch Mayor Kirsten Hagen Kennedy.
As Radinovich completes his last day in the mayor's office, Frey issued a statement saying Radinovich had told him many stories about his Crosby upbringing. Radinovich is the fourth generation of his blue-collar family to live in the area.
"The values Joe learned growing up on the Cuyuna Range made him an effective campaign manager and chief of staff," Frey said.
Frey added he would be meeting with many candidates in the days ahead to replace Radinovich, but that there was no timetable to fill his position.
Radinovich said he had gotten calls from Minnesotans everywhere urging him to run for Congress after Nolan announced he would retire.
"Now more than ever, we've got to continue this fight, to take on the special interests, and to stand up for working people and families while keeping an eye to the future of our region," Radinovich said in his statement. "That includes expanding opportunity for kids in rural Minnesota, ensuring working people have opportunities in a changing economy, and harnessing our natural resources while protecting our way of life."
The Minnesota Jobs Coalition, aligned with Republicans, criticized Radinovich in a news release for votes and statements on taxes and health care from when he was in the Legislature. "Radinovich's legacy is one of broken promises, higher taxes and higher costs for Minnesota families," the group said.