The National Republican Congressional Committee has named Eighth Congressional District candidate Stewart Mills III as one of its most promising recruits for the 2014 election cycle.

Mills is one of 17 House hopefuls the NRCC added to its “Contender” list this week. He’s preparing to take on Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan in the district that covers most of northeastern Minnesota.

Mills, vice president of Mills Fleet Farm, made the NRCC’s “On the Radar” list in November. The next and final rung is for top tier recruits, who are tagged as “Young Guns.”

As candidates ascend the ranks, they’re more likely to receive financial and campaign aid from the NRCC, the campaign arm of House Republicans.

“The Republican candidates that reach the ‘Contender’ status are exemplary of the new leadership needed in Washington D.C. to turn our country around and provide a check and balance in Washington,” said Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who chairs the NRCC.  “I am confident that Stewart will continue to work hard for his community and bring sound, conservative principles to Congress.”

During the fall, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Steve Israel said he is confident Nolan will defend his seat.

“If Stewart Mills is so disconnected from reality that he thinks being the handpicked candidate of this Republican Congress is what the people of Minnesota are looking for, he is in for a rude awakening in November,” Josh Schwerin of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement.

The NRCC has also targeted Minnesota Democratic congressman Collin Peterson and Rep. Tim Walz, but none of their potential Republican challengers made the up-and-coming list.

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