Home / All News / It’s official: The Swanson/Nolan ticket is running for governor

It’s official: The Swanson/Nolan ticket is running for governor

Attorney General Lori Swanson, who was rebuffed by a substantial portion of party delegates in her bid for reelection at last weekend’s nominating convention, is instead running for governor.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, the 8th District congressman who announced in February that he will retire from the U.S. House, is Swanson’s running mate.

The duo made a formal announcement Monday afternoon in downtown Minneapolis.

“We couldn’t be more excited about today—about being able to step forward and serve the people of Minnesota,” Swanson said. “We’re a couple of problem solvers.”

Nolan said that he and his wife, Mary, met with Swanson on Sunday after he got a surprise call from Swanson to discuss teaming up in the race. He said he decided to join the ticket Monday morning.

“To be able to serve and collaborate in a Swanson administration is just a request too compelling to decline,” Nolan said.

Nolan said he anticipates his working relationship with Swanson, should she become governor, would be similar to the tight collaboration between former President Jimmy Carter and his vice president, Walter Mondale, in the 1970s.

After just one round of balloting at the DFL’s nominating convention in Rochester Saturday, Swanson dropped out of contention to repeat as attorney general. She led in the delegate count at the time 52 percent to 47 percent.

She said a key reason she withdrew her name, despite leading, was because delegates circulated a number of pledges that they demanded she sign. She said she felt she could not comply.

“Because I wasn’t completing these pledges and I wasn’t completing these questionnaires, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to me,” she said of the large plurality of delegates voting against her.

“When that ballot came back it allowed me to step back and evaluate what options there may be,” she said. “And this is what we are doing today.”

Asked whether she believes she would ultimately have prevailed over challenger Matt Pelikan as balloting progressed at the convention, she said she wasn’t sure.

“Who knows?” she said. “You don’t know how balloting goes.” After the first round Saturday, she said, “I decided to step back and let the convention move on with their business.” Pelikan was named the party’s nominee for attorney general.

The DFL’s primary ballot figures to be crowded. The DFL endorsed Rep. Erin Murphy, St. Paul, a former House majority leader. She later named Rep. Erin Maye Quade, Apple Valley, as her running mate.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, who did not secure the DFL nomination over the weekend, already has indicated he and his running mate, state Rep. Peggy Flanagan, St. Louis Park, will compete in the Aug. 14 primary against the two Erins. They now will be joined by Swanson and Nolan.

State Auditor Rebecca Otto withdrew her name from contention as a nominee Saturday after attracting the smallest number of delegate votes. On Monday, she posted a Facebook message indicating she is suspending her campaign from the governor’s race.

On the GOP side, gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson and his running mate Donna Bergstrom face a primary challenge from former GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty and his running mate, Michelle Fischbach—Gov. Mark Dayton’s current lieutenant governor. She resigned from the state Senate on May 25 and signed on with Pawlenty shortly thereafter.


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About Kevin Featherly

Kevin Featherly, who joined BridgeTower Media in mid-2016, is a journalist and former freelance writer who has covered politics, law, business, technology and popular culture for publications and websites in the Twin Cities and nationally since the mid-1990s.


  1. I would note that Lori Swanson was NOT “rebuffed by party delegates in her bid for reelection at last weekend’s nominating convention.” She won 52% of the vote on the 1st ballot! If she stayed in the race, it is likely she would reach the 60% threshold for endorsement by the 2nd or 3rd ballot!

  2. Lori Swanson won the first ballot at the DFL convention, but only garnered 52% of the vote. While that’s short of the 60% that she needed for the endorsement, it would only be a rebuff if she’d lost.

  3. Maybe Mike Hatch told her to do it.

  4. Lori Swanson was not rebuffed. In the first ballot she had 52.5% of the vote, after which she chose to bow out rather than continue; clearly because she had decided to run for governor instead. Had she stayed in I am quite certain she would’ve reached the 60% required for endorsement in the 2nd or 3rd ballot.

  5. You’re being too literal with “rebuff”. When, as a two-term incumbent, you get barely 50% of your party’s delegates behind you versus a rather inexperienced opponent, you’ve quite clearly been rebuffed.

  6. Nolan recently voted for a bank deregulation bill. A truly inexcusable vote that zeroed out, to my mind, the “he’s good except on mining” take on him. Was he qualifying himself for dark/dirty corporate money for this race? I dunno but the odor is bad.

  7. Linda Bjorklund

    I like Lori Swanson, but Nolan lost my support when he backed open pit mining adjacent to the BWCA. If you want to see what that does to the community, visit Butte,MT. He wouldn’t even accept my comments on FB because I wasn’t his constituent. Too bad I contributed to his campaign – thinking he had a spine. Lori will lose big time with Nolan as a running mate.

  8. Jon: Pro LGBT, Pro 2A

    The DFL has shifted so far to the left they lost me. I pay attention only out of morbid curiosity.

  9. Sad!

  10. I am surprised she would do this at this late date. She won’t get party resources, like endorsed candidate Erin Murphy who is the one who really in the most qualified being she was Majority Leader. I think Lori was a good attorney general and I think she should have stayed in for more ballots.She would have won, yes. I would have voted for her for Attorney General, not Governor.

  11. Pauline Phillips

    I’m disappointed in her decision. I don’t believe she can win with Nolan. I liked get as Attorney General.

  12. The best thing I ever did was move out of Minnesota, low wages, trashy, high taxes, terrible schools, horrible roads and the unelected met council runs the state. The ultra rich DFL imports the 3rd world populations for votes and the fools don’t see it as they get hammered with taxes.

  13. To the author of this article, you misunderstand the term ‘plurality.’

  14. Both faced loses ahead, Swanson with such low approval as 50% (had she even gotten 80% I would have thought it strangely low for a well known partisan) and Nolan facing a loss in his upcoming race and having lied about running at the time of caucus – literally dragging his supporters out in the cold for a farce as far as the congressional race. These are Mr and Ms Willy Loman of the MN political scene. Fortunately the DFL has terrific endorsed candidates in Erin Murphy and Erin Maye Quade! Smart, gracious and dignified these are leaders.

  15. As one who has been helped by Lori Swanson, I will miss her as our Attorney General; however, running a State, she would have to rely on Nolan for guidance, Scaryy.

  16. A Public Service Atty

    The AG’s office has a reputation as a “mill.” People hate working there, many attorneys, new and experienced are chewed up and spit out, and word on the street is it’s been that way since Hatch (see Eric Black’s reporting on the subject). I only need to look at the email attached to Amy Lawler’s letter (google it) to see that Ms. Swanson appeared more concerned with how the union drive in that office would look for her politically than with the well-being of her office’s employees. Sadly, these kind attitudes are common with big shot attorneys… when they are smart litigators or advocates (or even more farcically, when they’re not) they let power go to their heads and their offices suffer due to staff turnover and turmoil. Beyond just poor management style, Ms. Swanson engaged in union busting tactics against her employees, which would seem anathema to DFL values. There is also a lot of evidence that Minnesota AGs don’t connect in governor’s races.

    I am glad Ms. Swanson will be replaced. Yes her office has accomplished some good things, but those could have been done in a far better matter. There is more to leadership than being a good litigator, and both the governor and AG’s office require more.

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