According to Federal Election Commission data, Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District race has attracted the most money from outside groups so far.
The contest between Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills has already seen nearly $1.4 million in PAC spending, with much of it coming from Nolan supporters, such as the House Majority Fund and the AFSCME union.
In contrast, the race for the Seventh Congressional District seat, which Republican Torrey Westrom hopes to snatch from longtime Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, has only seen $245,000 in independent expenditures. Interestingly, the last filing documenting outside spending in that race was from eight months ago.
Minnesota's U.S. Senate race, so far, has drawn relatively little interest from independent spenders. According to FEC filings, outside groups have spent about $140,000 to weigh in on the battle between Democratic Sen. Al Franken and Republican Mike McFadden.
The FEC calculations only include expenditures that represent, "spending by individual people, groups, political committees, corporations or unions expressly advocating the election or defeat of clearly identified federal candidates."
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BRAINERD -- GOP Congressional candidate Stewart Mills believes in health care reform, sensible environmental regulation and would even seek out federal cash for appropriate district projects.
He just doesn't like the way the Democrats on Capitol Hill have been going about any of this work.
In a sit-down with the Star Tribune between campaign events here at his headquarters, Mills answered a few questions:
--What did you think of recent comments made by GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden about his preference for using Chinese steel to build the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, as long as it was cheaper?
"I'm not going to distance from myself from anybody's comments .. but I will tell you what I believe: Any pipeline that's going to be built, especially the Keystone, is going to be built with U.S. steel. We know the competing steel from countries are violating trade agreements by manipulating their currencies ... I don' t think we should be rewarding them for cheating."
--Rep. Rick Nolan openly seeks out federal money for local projects in the district. How would you approach seeking out federal cash to bring back home?
"I think that people in this part of Minnesota understand that that's gotta be paid for somewhere. If there's a project that's worthwhile, that makes sense for this district, I would advocate for it too. However, I would not try to use that as a leverage point to get reelected."
--How is the campaign going so far?
"There's no part of the 8th district we don't think we're going to do well. We think our message cuts across all geographic areas and people that have traditionally been pegged as Democrats I think will be looking at our campaign with open eyes."
--You have said you don't support the Paul Ryan Budget plan, supported by the majority of House Republicans and approved in the spring of 2014. (Though not taken up by the Senate.) Tell me why.
"I agree with repealing Obamacare but I don't agree with the cuts to Medicare Advantage. I believe that money should be returned to Medicare and then we have to reform the system ... That's how it becomes sustainable."
Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy III will visit Minnesota on Thursday to headline a campaign rally and fundraiser for colleague Rick Nolan, who faces a tough re-election race this fall.
Kennedy, son of former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York, is expected to draw a large crowd to Carmody’s Irish Pub.
Kennedy and Nolan will also attend a private fundraiser at a residence St. Paul and a meet-and-greet at Everyday Joe Coffee and Café in North Branch.
A rising star on Capitol Hill, Kennedy has launched a leadership PAC to help colleagues in need of campaign cash and Nolan has been among the beneficiaries.
During Nolan’s first go-around in Congress in the 1970s and early 1980s, he was an ally of Kennedy’s great uncle, former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.
The Cook Political Report considers the race between Nolan and Republican challenger Stewart Mills III a toss-up.
The congressional campaigns of Republicans Stewart Mills III and Torrey Westrom are picking up more national attention.
An ABC News piece on the five “most interesting” 2014 GOP U.S. House candidates features Mills, labeled the “Republican Brad Pitt,” and Westrom, whom the piece dubbed “the sightless [state] senator who’s never lost an election.”
Mills is challenging Democrat Rick Nolan in the Eighth District and Westrom faces Democrat Collin Peterson in the Seventh District.
Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call ran a story on the Westrom-Peterson race Tuesday suggesting this could be the toughest re-election race yet for Peterson, who’s seeking a 13th term in Congress.
This item originally appeared in the Star Tribune's daily political newsletter. To sign up, go to StarTribune.com/membercenter, check the Politics newsletter box and save the change.
Republican donor Stanley Hubbard said he and his family were uninvolved with his television stations decision to pull an anti-Stewart Mills ad.
"I heard someone accused the Hubbards of being behind that decision. We had nothing to do with it," Hubbard told the Star Tribune.
Two Hubbard stations were the only ones to cede to the Mills campaign request that stations stop airing the television ad from the Democratic House Majority PAC and the AFSCME union. Other stations are still airing the spot.
Although Hubbard and his family have personally supported Mills financially, he said that decision was out of his purview.
"Our legal department received the complaint, and they inspected the ad, and felt that there were things in it that were out of context and not true. Tell the truth and you’ll have no trouble with us," Hubbard said. "Our stations do not get involved in politics, period.”
Patrick Condon contributed to this report
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