The Hill’s 50 races to watch


Minnesota 8th District

Rick Nolan (D) vs Chip Cravaack (R)

Rep. Chip Cravaack won this seat in 2010 in a surprise upset against longtime Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Democrats want the district back.

They’ve pinned their hopes on Rick Nolan, a former member of the House who decided to return to politics. Nolan served three terms in the 6th Congressional district in the late ’70s, opting not to run for reelection in 1980.

The race between the two men has been bitter and outside groups — particularly former Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) American Action Network — have spent more than $1 million on the race. Both parties are spending heavily there, too.

Nolan was boosted by an endorsement from the United Steelworkers Union. Mining is one of the main industries in the area. Cravaack’s campaign points out that the freshman lawmaker was endorsed by one of the local mining unions: the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49.

Cravaack is also supported by several local Democrats who were unhappy Nolan won the heavily-contested August primary. As for the district itself, its lines remained mostly unchanged in the redistricting process.

The Hill rates this race as a toss-up.