Leah Phifer
(Credit: Leah Phifer campaign Facebook page)

Editor’s Note: This story is part of our Running Women project following 15 compelling women candidates in 2018.

That didn’t take long. Three weeks after incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan announced his retirement, leaving Leah Phifer as the lone Democratic candidate to represent Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, four new candidates have joined the race.

Kirsten Hagen Kennedy, the second-term mayor of North Branch, was the first one to step up to seek the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nomination. 

She was quickly followed by Joe Radinovich and Michelle Lee. Radinovich is a former one-term state representative from Cuyuna Range and was Nolan’s 2016 campaign manager. His decision came just weeks after he took a job as chief of staff to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. Lee is a newcomer to politics, but has name recognition in the state. She anchored for Duluth’s KBJR-TV newscast for 26 years, retiring in 2016.

The latest entrant is State Representative Jason Metsa, a big name from the Iron Range and third-term representative from Virginia who was encouraged to run by Nolan himself.

The DFL Party will meet to make endorsements at a convention scheduled for April 14 in downtown Duluth. If no candidate rises to the top, they will compete in primary elections on Aug. 14.