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Rep. Rick Nolan to retire at the end of his term

The Democrat is the incumbent in one of the tightest districts in the nation.
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Minnesota's 8th Congressional District Rep. Rick Nolan has announced he will retire at the end of his term this year.

The shock announcement was made Friday morning, with Nolan revealing in a press release his intention to see out the remainder of his term before stepping down.

His district is one of the most closely-contested in the nation and will be a huge target for Republicans in the November mid-terms.

In his most recent re-election, the 74 year old just about held on to his seat from Republican challenge Stewart Mills.

He gained just over 2,000 votes more than Mills for a margin of 0.6 percent.

In a statement sent to media, Nolan wrote: "There is a time and a purpose for everything and now is the time for me to pass the baton to the next generation.

"To be sure, I’m really going to miss representing the 8th District, but it is time for me to spend more time with my wonderful wife, Mary, our four fantastic adult children and their terrific spouses, and our 13 remarkable grandchildren."

A huge target for Republicans

Democrats will face a tough time hanging on to his seat without him, given his district voted for President Donald Trump by 16 points in 2016.

Nolan has increasingly had to straddle the line between Democrat and Republican sentiment in what is a politically diverse district in northern Minnesota, which includes the more liberal Duluth area and the GOP-friendly Iron Range.

The 8th District race saw some of the biggest political spending in the country in 2016, and will surely be a huge target for Republicans in the upcoming mid-terms.

Nolan though perhaps saw a chance to keep the district blue without him by stepping down now, considering Trump's presidency is expected to bring a "blue wave" of voters this November.

In his statement, Nolan said: "Hopefully the timing of this announcement in this still young election year will provide prospective candidates with ample opportunity to present themselves to voters and activists at the many party county conventions to be held over the next several months throughout our region."

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