The National Republican Congressional Committee announced today that Stewart Mills III and Torrey Westrom have reached the top tier of the GOP's “Young Guns" program for promising congressional candidates.

Mills, vice president of Mills Fleet Farm, is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District in northeastern Minnesota.

Westrom, a state senator, is trying to unseat 12-ternm incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson in the state’s Seventh Congressional District, which covers most of western Minnesota.

As challengers ascend the ranks of the “Young Guns” program, they’re more likely to receive financial and campaign aid from the NRCC, the campaign arm of House Republicans. Promotion to the top level is a signal that the NRCC is keeping close watch on the candidates’ congressional race.

In a statement released today, NRCC chairman Greg Walden, said:  “Our job as a committee is to help elect Republicans to office that will serve as a check and balance on the Obama administration.”

Mills and Westrom are among the first 10 candidates to reach the top tier this election cycle. Walden said they have “outlined conservative principles that will grow jobs, stop the harmful effects of ObamaCare, and get Washington’s spending under control.”

In a statement, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Josh Schwerin said: “Luckily for the people of Minnesota, Republicans in Washington don’t get to pick their representative – the voters do, and they will make clear this fall that they don’t want to send [Mills or Westrom] to Washington to be another rubber stamp for this reviled Republican Congress.”

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