Nolan Makes History with Return to Congress

Updated: 11/14/2012 7:20 AM By: Tom Hauser

Rick Nolan's election as the next 8th District Congressman from Minnesota is making history in Washington, DC.

When he takes office in January he will set the record for the longest span between terms in Congress. He was first elected in 1974 and served three terms. He decided not to run again in 1980.  After 32 years in business, he decided it was time to make another run.

On November 7th he made history by beating Republican Chip Cravaack, two years after Cravaack made history himself by unseating Jim Oberstar. Ironically, Oberstar was also a member of the House class of 1974.  
So just how long ago was 1974? Well, consider there were no cell phones, fax machines, desktop computers, laptops, iPads, Twitter or Facebook. There wasn't even cable TV and no 24-hour news cycle. All of those things are now staples of life in Congress. "We've got four kids and 10 grandkids," Nolan says with a smile.  "They've done a pretty good job at keeping my wife Mary and I abreast of all the latest technology."  
Nolan says he's excited to get started, saying he feels like "a freshman Congressman who's never been here before." He'll find few familiar faces from the 1970's.  Only five members of his Class of '74 are still in Congress. One of them is Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who has now served in the House and Senate for 38 years.  He's confident Nolan will jump right back in.  "The single most important ingredient to getting anything done in the Congress is your personal connections with other congressman and senators," Harkin says. ""Now that's what Rick Nolan can do."