Reporting Pat Kessler
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Democrat running for Congress in 8th District linked incumbent Republican Congressman Chip Cravaack to the sudden closing of a manufacturing plant in Duluth.
Rick Nolan says Cravaack did not fight the shutdown of the Georgia-Pacific plant, which shut down suddenly in August. The closing led to 141 people losing their jobs.
The plant was owned by the Koch brothers, billionaire businessmen who are the financial muscle behind many national conservative groups who produce ads opposing Democrats. They are also donors to Cravaack’s campaign.
Nolan claims that Cravaack did not fight the shutdown more aggressively due to the Koch’s influence.
“And one could easily argue that the reason why Chip Cravaack is not here defending the workers in the closing of this Georgia-Pacific plant is because he’s getting all kinds of money from the Koch brothers who owns this Georgia-Pacific plant,” Nolan said in the ad.
Cravaack denies the charge, calling Nolan “desperate”.
The freshman Republican says he’s making inroads among traditionally Democratic-leaning labor groups. And with labor issues emerging as a major issue, Cravaack will start running a television ad on Tuesday claiming Democratic union support.
John Finken, who is identified in the ad as a 33-year veteran of mining, gives his support to Cravaack.
“Chip spent some time on the picket lines himself. And Chip has been fighting very hard for us,” Finken said. “All my life I grew up a Democrat. But the exception to the rule is Chip Cravaack.”
Cravaack scored one of the biggest upsets in the country two years ago, beating incumbent Democrat James Oberstar.
And this time around, both Republicans and Democrats are making this race a priority.
National groups linked to Democrats and Republicans are pouring millions into television commercials.
In fact, the 8th District ranks among the top five in the country to watch.