State Rep. Jennifer Schultz announces bid for Congress in Minnesota's 8th district

Jen Schultz announces her campaign for Congress
Rep. Jennifer Schultz, DFL-Duluth, launches a bid for Congress on Monday at a rally in Duluth,
Dan Kraker | MPR News

DFL state Rep. Jennifer Schultz of Duluth officially launched a bid for Congress Monday with rallies on the Iron Range and in Duluth, where she delivered a fiery speech asserting she’s a better candidate to represent Minnesota’s vast 8th district than Republican incumbent Pete Stauber.

Schultz, a four-term state representative and economics professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, said she had no designs on a run for Congress when she announced earlier she would not seek another term at the Legislature.

But she said she reconsidered after fielding calls from what she said were “hundreds” of people around the state — including former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, the last Democrat to win the 8th — as well as farmers and labor representatives around the district, who she said “begged” her to run.

“I wanted you to have a choice. I really did. Because when we invest in our people, we all do better," Schultz said in front of dozens of boisterous supporters inside Duluth City Hall.

Schultz described herself as someone who works across the aisle to get things done in a bipartisan fashion, and said she would work to help “heal the divide that we have in our state and our country.”

She also criticized Stauber, of nearby Hermantown, for voting against a $1 trillion federal infrastructure spending bill last November, and said the incumbent “has done nothing for mining or miners except to pay lip service.”

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Schultz said she supports miners, the mining industry and good union jobs, and said she believes “we can have both mining and environmental protections to make sure that we protect our area for future generations.”

The Republican National Committee reacted with a statement critical of Schultz.

“Forced to endure skyrocketing inflation, record-high gas prices, and anti-mining policies that kill Iron Range jobs, voters in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District aren’t interested in sending Jennifer Schultz to Washington to be another rubber stamp for Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden,” spokesperson Preya Samsundar said.

For decades the 8th district voted reliably Democratic. Over the past few years, however the district, along with the rest of rural Minnesota, has tilted heavily Republican.

Stauber won a second term in 2020 by nearly 20 percentage points.