WASHINGTON – Like many elected officials, Rep. Rick Nolan planned to split his holiday weekend between public events celebrating Independence Day and time spent with his family.
Nolan, D-Minn., has been especially focused on the balance of business and pleasure ever since his youngest daughter, Katherine, was diagnosed with stage four cancer earlier this year, and he said he will continue to make it a priority as he hits the campaign trail.
For those who thought the 71-year-old representative might walk away from trying for a third term, Nolan has an answer: Not a chance.
“I made that decision the day after the last election,” Nolan said.
Disproving speculation that his daughter’s health might lead to his name not being on the ticket, Nolan said he just takes time to see her whenever possible.
“I’m spending more time with her and the family,” Nolan said. “I’m not as hard at it on the campaign trail as I probably would be if it weren’t for that, but we’re getting a lot of special time together.”
Campaign efforts are well underway and Nolan’s team pulled in more than $270,000 in the first quarter, he said.
Of the five people who have been hired in Minnesota for the re-election efforts, all but one also worked for Nolan in November when he defeated Mills Fleet Farm heir Stewart Mills, he said. Nolan said he’s unsure if Mills will run again in 2016, but said it wouldn’t surprise him either way.
Nolan is optimistic about his chances even if Mills is the Republican contender, because Democrats typically show up in greater numbers during presidential election years, and Mills was unable to clench the seat despite a strong Republican showing nationally in 2014.
From 1975 to 1981, Nolan was a U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s Sixth District and he has represented the Eighth District since defeating incumbent Chip Cravaack in 2012.
Nolan said issues like alleviating student debt burdens and getting the United States out of conflict in the Middle East will be on his 2016 agenda.
Despite a job that regularly demands workdays that run 12 hours or longer, Nolan said he has been happy with his time in office so far and invigorated by what he says he has accomplished for his district.
“I’m enjoying serving,” Nolan said. “The country has been so good to my generation, and I have a chance to pay it forward.”