BRAINERD, Minn.-Annie Harala will take on one of the country's toughest electoral battlegrounds to serve the DFL cause.
It was announced Oct. 16 she would be campaign manager for the re-election of U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in the 8th Congressional District.
Although her family hails from the Iron Range, Harala was born and raised in Duluth and attended college at St. Mary's University in Winona. After college, she joined Americorps, which sent her to Washington state. Over the past five years, she's worked in the field of health policy, she said. She's also wrapping up a term on the Duluth School Board.
Harala said she was enthusiastic about Nolan's support for women's issues such as fair wages.
"It's an honor to be on this campaign," she said.
The race for the 8th drew the third highest amount of money from outside groups out of all the congressional districts in the country in 2016: $2.6 million before Election Day. Asked the degree to which the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other national Democrat groups would play a role in the campaign, Harala responded by saying both national partners and locals would be meaningful.
"It's important that we work with all of our partners," Harala said. "We partner strongly with a lot of folks, but ... what matters to our folks on the ground is really important to us."
Good-paying jobs, access to health care, and Nolan's effectiveness would be main aspects of campaign messaging, she said.
The state of the game more than a year out from November 2018 was still a political egg waiting to be hatched. As of Wednesday, campaign staff consisted of Harala and one other person with an office in Brainerd, she said. There were staff from other campaigns supporting them, Harala said.
Regarding strategy, Harala noted a different manager ran Nolan's campaign each election cycle since 2012.
"I think we each have brought our own flavor," Harala said. "I can take what's worked well from the last number of campaigns and then add some of my own to that."
At the moment, the campaign is reaching out to people in the district and asking what issues are important to them, she said.
As of Thursday, Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections rated the election chances in the 8th as "leaning Democratic."
According to campaign finance reports filed Oct. 15 with the Federal Election Commission, the Nolan campaign raised a net $120,507 from July 1 through Sept. 30. The campaign had $455,545 in cash on hand.
The Nolan campaign raised more than $3 million in the 2016 cycle. His opponent, Stewart Mills III, raised more than $3.5 million.