BRAINERD, Minn. — Democrats will be looking to a new and different face to challenge Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Duluth, in the 2020 election — Joe Radinovich has bowed out of consideration.
Radinovich confirmed his decision in a Twitter post early Friday afternoon, Aug. 9, describing his decision as a choice to spend more time with family and personal matters.
“While I believe that our country faces its most important elections in 2020 — one that will determine whether our nation embraces a return to governing in pursuit of our founding principles of justice, equality, and freedom and on behalf of all Americans,” Radinovich wrote, “my most immediate priorities are at home, with my fiance and our family as we plan our future together.”
Radinovich went on further to state the 8th Congressional District “deserves a representative who is an independent voice on behalf of those fighting to provide for themselves and their families in a rapidly changing economy.”
The former state lawmaker and DFL insider, Radinovich, garnered favor and close connections with prominent DFL figures across the state — the likes of former state Rep. John Ward, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and former U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, the man he hoped to replace in a head-to-head showdown with Stauber in 2018.
A Crosby native, Radinovich’s rise to the Democrat nomination in 2018 at only 32 years of age was precipitated by a meteoric career that began with his election to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2012 at 25. This was followed by stints as campaign managers for Nolan’s congressional campaign in 2016 and Frey’s mayoral bid in 2017, whereupon he served briefly as Fray’s chief of staff before making his own run for Congress last year.
Stauber won convincingly over Radinovich with 159,365 votes to 141,949 votes (or, a margin of 51% to 45%) in a high profile race.
Pundits pointed out that Radinovich represented a party fractured over, among other issues, whether or not to support copper-nickel mining in water rich environments such as the Boundary Waters, but he was also dogged by his own personal detractions and controversies.
Prior and leading up to Election Day 2018, Republicans disparaged Radinovich as a urban-centric elitist, or “Metro Joe.” During the campaign, Republicans ran a series of attack ads pointing to a history of unpaid parking tickets and a 2005 drug paraphernalia citation. More recently, Radinvoich resigned from a $100,000 managerial position at the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation in April after it was revealed his selection bypassed mandated employment protocols.