Nolan says he won't seek re-election

In a Tweet to constituents, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan on Friday said he plans to retire and will not seek re-election.

“The gratitude and affection I have for all of you here in Northeastern Minnesota is beyond my ability to express in words. Make no mistake – I love my work representing you in the Congress, and the decision to leave is agonizing to say the least,” said the Democrat, who spent a cumulative 16 years on Capitol Hill. But the time is right to pass the baton to the next generation, he added.

Nolan expressed a desire to spend more time with his wife, his four adult children and 13 grandchildren.

“They have been incredibly patient and supportive. Now it’s time for me to respond in kind and give them the attention they deserve and I want to give,” he added.

"Rick has served our country well and done incredible work for Northern Minnesota. When he speaks, he speaks with honesty. When he takes on a fight, he never backs down. With a twinkle in his eye and a big heart for his constituents, he has been a joy to work with," U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in a news release. “Now he has decided to put his family first and after all he has been through this year, he deserves it. Thanks to Rick and Mary for their work and I look forward to the remaining months ahead. Oh, and by the way, Rick is such a rabble rouser, he isn’t done yet!”

Nolan has been in a difficult position during his recent terms, torn between Iron Range  Democrats who support non-ferrous mining and downstate Democrats who oppose it. Nonetheless, he favored development of the proposed PolyMet mine near Hoyt Lakes. He sent a letter that was read Thursday to the state public hearing on PolyMet’s environmental permits.

“I’ve always been a strong supporter of mining but I’m also committed to a thorough environmental review process. Throughout the process, PolyMet has consistently been willing to revise and improve their proposal,” he said in a statement read to mining supporters by his aide, Jeff Anderson.

Leah Phifer, who intended to challenge Nolan in the primary election, said his retirement presents a unique opportunity to unite the DFL in the 8th District.

“I’ve been traveling the district the past eight months, hearing from many DFL’ers concerned about the future of our district. I look forward to uniting us around our core values of economic justice, human rights and environmental protections,” she said in a prepared statement.

The nation faces troubling politics, Nolan said in his Tweet. He predicted progress and reform will prevail.

“Fortunately, we are blessed to have a number of highly qualified people who have demonstrated the ability to win tough elections and govern effectively,” he wrote. “With hard work and a broad base of support, one of them will win the seat and serve with distinction in the next Congress.”

Nolan intends to complete his current term.

“History teachers us there are no final victories in politics. There will always be powerful forces standing in the way of progress. So I will continue to speak out for the common sense progressive agenda I have spent a lifetime fighting for,” he said.