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Group looks to recruit Nolan for Minnesota governor

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan

DULUTH, Minn.—Gov. Rick Nolan?

One group is pushing the 8th District congressman to make a run for the state's highest office next year, and it sent a letter to Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party activists and leaders on Tuesday urging them to support such a bid.

"Last year we lost both houses of the Legislature and suffered a devastating defeat," reads the letter from the Coalition to Draft Rick Nolan for Governor. "We need a candidate for governor who appeals to the broadest number of Minnesotans, based on proven DFL policies and principles."

The group warns: "If we lose the governorship in 2018, we will become Wisconsin," a reference to the Republican control of the Badger State's Legislature and governor's seat.

Nolan's spokeswoman in January said Nolan is considering a run and didn't have a timeline for making a decision.

The coalition that sent the letter includes current and former state legislators such as Joe Begich, Ron Dicklich, Rob Ecklund, Jason Metsa and David Tomassoni. The group also includes Iron Range businesspeople and mining interests and is chaired by 8th District DFL Chair Justin Perpich.

"At a time when the DFL Party is reeling from significant losses in the 2016 elections, Congressman Nolan is the perfect candidate to stop the party's hemorrhaging of working class voters," the group said in an email Tuesday.

Nolan would join a growing field of DFL contenders for governor: State Auditor Rebecca Otto, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and state Rep. Erin Murphy of St. Paul all have thrown their hats in the ring. Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey, Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson are also vying for the nomination from their party.

Incumbent DFL Gov. Mark Dayton has said he will not seek re-election in 2018.

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

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