Eighth Congressional district candidates Rick Nolan and Chip Cravaack debated this morning in Duluth. Jeff Rosenberg assesses it in Nolan creams Cravaack in first debate at the Minnesota Progressive Project.
Update: Range blogger Aaron Brown's even-handed analysis, First MN-8 debate reaction: Fire and ice, is also worth a read. [end update]
Two CD8 Democrats had harsher words for Cravaack.
With an assist from retiring Iron Range state representative Tommy Rukavina, former Duluth City Council president Jeff Anderson, who ran in the Democratic primary against Nolan, went to Facebook to challenge a couple of Cravaack's claims.
Anderson writes on his Facebook wall:
Today's debate between Congressman Rick Nolan and Congressman Chip Cravaack was civil and informative. Rick Nolan did a fantastic job of making the case for change and why his style of leadership is so desperately needed in Washington.
Not true says Tom Rukavina via text. And I quote, "I never said that those meetings for Polymet were productive. That's a damn lie. I went to 3 or 4 meetings and they were useless and Cravaack couldn't even grasp the situation."
The second moment came when Rep. Cravaack said, "Even Jeff Anderson, who now works for you, has come out and said Cravaack gets it. He’s the pro-mining candidate in this race."
Again, not true. First, I do not work for the Nolan for Congress campaign. Second, I have never in my life said Cravaack gets anything! One of the reasons I support Rick Nolan is because he is the pro-mining candidate in this race. This is why the Steelworkers and Tom Rukavina (and countless Iron Rangers) support Rick as well.
Cravaack doesn't get it. There's more to governing than holding some meetings or passing feel good legislation that will never become law.
We need a Congressman who knows how to get things done and isn't afraid to work across the aisle. We need a Congressman who actually is from here and lives here. Those are just a few of the many reasons Rick Nolan gets it, and gets my vote.
That's pretty direct. What does the written record reveal?
There's some evidence in earlier media reports that support and dispute Rukavina's claim. For instance, in a March 4, 2011 report on MPR, Rep. Cravaack holds roundtable on PolyMet mining project, Rukavina is quoted:
"Our understanding is all of our taconite plants had issues with that, and any new permitting at Essar Steel, to dewater their mines ... their water in there is well over that standard," Rukavina said. "How is that going to happen? I don't think anyone in the room really answered that question.
That doesn't sound productive. On the other hand, there's a Duluth News Tribune report from October 8, 2011 via Mining Minnesota:
State Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Pike Township, and Sen. Dave Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, agreed that Cravaack’s meetings have helped keep federal regulators focused.
“It appears the agencies are communicating in a way they were not communicating before,” Tomassoni said.
Tom Rukavina isn't quoted directly in the article, which mostly relies on Cravaack himself talking about his work as its source.
A Nexis search of various combinations of search terms related to Cravaack and Rukavina produced nothing else.
As for Jeff Anderson, Cravaack's statement seems to be a riff on this passage in a Princeton Union Eagle article from June 28, 2012:
Anderson argues that he, among the DFL candidates, best matches up with Cravaack on the issue of mining — Cravaack has become a very pro-mining congressman, Anderson said.
“I know we’ve mined for a 130 years and I want to see us mine for another 130 years,” Anderson said.
“I want to see us do it safely, I want us to do it the right way,” he said.
“And I believe we can,” he said.
Again, it's not a direct quote and Anderson doesn't say that Cravaack gets it, nor does he call Cravaack "the" pro-mining candidate.
At best Cravaack's cracks and the DFLers' response seem like political spin as normal on the Range. At worst, Cravaack's cracks and the DFLers' response seem like political spin as normal on the Range.
Photo: Chip Cravaack at the Nimrod Parade.