REGIONAL— Eighth District Rep. Rick Nolan says he remains uncommitted over whom to back in the increasingly close and bitter Democratic presidential contest, despite persistent claims by the …
REGIONAL— Eighth District Rep. Rick Nolan says he remains uncommitted over whom to back in the increasingly close and bitter Democratic presidential contest, despite persistent claims by the Hillary Clinton campaign that he is committed to her candidacy. “Congressman Nolan has not made an endorsement in the 2016 presidential race, and there is currently no plan to do so,” said Nolan’s campaign spokesperson Joe Radinovich.
Nolan is one of 16 top state officeholders and Democratic Party officials who qualify as “superdelegates,” which means they can vote for any candidate at the party’s national convention this summer, regardless of the preferences expressed by Democratic voters at the state’s March 1 caucus. According to the campaigns, all but three of the state’s superdelegates are backing Clinton, including Nolan, who is facing what is expected to be a tough re-election fight against Mills Fleet Farm scion Stewart Mills.
The issue of superdelegates, which do not exist on the Republican side, has rankled many supporters of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who complain that the party’s “establishment” is ignoring the views of rank and file Democrats. While Sanders has won nearly half of the overall primary vote to date— and won another major primary victory in Wisconsin on Tuesday— Clinton appears to enjoy an overwhelming lead among superdelegates nationwide.
But Nolan’s case raises the question of how committed some of those Clinton superdelegates really are to her candidacy. According to Radinovich, Nolan was invited to, and did attend, a Clinton fundraiser in early 2015, well before the race was really underway. He said Nolan’s attendance at that event appears to have been the basis for the Clinton campaign’s claim of his support. The issue has become a point of concern for DFLers in the Eighth District, where Sanders won by a nearly two-to-one margin. “More and more over the past few weeks, we’ve been getting this line of inquiry,” said Radinovich.
Two weeks ago, Seventh District Rep. Collin Peterson said he would abide by the wishes of his constituents and announced that he would back Sanders.
Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison is the only other of the state’s political leaders to announce his support for Sanders.
Radinovich said Rep. Nolan has yet to decide whether he’ll even attend the Democratic national convention, set for July 25-28 in Philidelphia, but added that Nolan views both Democratic candidates as highly talented and qualified. “They would certainly be much better than any Republican in the race,” said Radinovich.