National Republicans had a two-year rental of Minnesota's northern Eighth Congressional district and now they want to renew the lease.
To push a bit of earnest money behind that quest, the National Republican Congressional Committee plans to spend about $24,000 on a new August recess ad targeting Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan. The ad, released to the Star Tribune, will appear on broadcast television in the Duluth television market, said NRCC Spokeswoman Alleigh Marré.
The ad is the latest sign the GOP thinks the 2010 victory of Republican Chip Cravaack in northern Minnesota was not a fluke and their desire to put Democrats on the defensive this August.
Cravaack, who beat long-time Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, held the seat for just one term. Nolan ousted him last year, winning 54 percent to Cravaack's 45 percent. But Republicans think they have an opening in the traditionally DFL district with Stewart Mills, a scion of the Mills Fleet Farm company, and nationally handicappers see the district as potentially in play.
So the National Republican Congressional Committee is pushing on Nolan hard with a paid ad accusing the him of not caring about veterans because he was one of just four members who voted against a veterans affairs bill in the House.
"They served their country with honor. Some paid a dreadful price. But Congressman Rick Nolan let them down," the ad intones.
"One of just four in Congress to vote against the veterans' bill," it says of Nolan's vote on HR 2216.
Nolan communications director Steve Johnson says that Nolan is totally committed to supporting veterans and defended the Democrat's vote against the bill.
"The simple truth is HR 2216 was not good enough for our vets. The final bill put forward by the Republican majority woefully and shamefully underfunds job training, medical care, housing and other programs our vets need and deserve – while shoveling tens of billions of dollars into unnecessary programs," said Johnson.
Veterans issues may have purchase in the northern congressional district. According to a 2010 calculation the district was home to more than 60,000 veterans -- more than any other district in the state.
See the ad here:
With a median age of 42 years old, the people Minnesota's northern Eighth Congressional District boasts the most seasoned population in the state.
By contrast, Minneapolis' Fifth Congressional District has the youngest population -- the median age is just 34 years old.
The figures are contained in a new look-up tool available from the U.S. Census Bureau, which allows quick display of all sorts data about each congressional district.
Use the tool (below) to see that the Fifth District, represented by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, had a 9.5 percent unemployment rate when the Census Bureau collected its data while U.S. Rep. Tim Walz's southern Minnesota First Congressional District had a 6.1 percent unemployment rate.
Interested in education, housing, marital status or other data? That's all in the tool as well. You can pick which district to look at by clicking 'select a district' in the widget below.
Let us know what nuggets you find most interesting in the comments or on Twitter by replying to @Rachelsb.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has polling that gives the GOP reason hope Minnesota's northern Eighth Congressional District could be in play next year.
Here's the key part of the poll, which was released to the Star Tribune:
If the election for Congress were held today, who would you most likely support: Stewart Mills, Republican or Rick Nolan, Democrat?
Not sure 28%
Last year, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan returned the district to Democratic hands, in which it had long been held, ousting one-term Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack. Now, political newcommer Stewart Mills, a Mills Fleet Farm executive, hopes to grab it back for Republicans.
Before Democrats get too worried about the northern Minnesota fight, they'll take notice of the polls partisan breakdown. The sample included 32 percent Republicans, 28
30 percent Democrats and 40 percent independents. The district tends to have a hue a bit more blue. Last year, 54 percent of Eighth District voters voted for Nolan and 51 percent voted for President Obama.
The poll was conducted last week and included 410 respondents. It has a margin of sampling error of 4.84 percent, which means that either Nolan or Mills could actually be leading.
Read the rest of the polling numbers here:
In an early morning post, City Pages dug out a biographical detail about new Republican congressional candidate Stewart Mills III: He's a Packer fan.
Complete with photos of Mills, who hopes to oust Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan from the state's northern Eighth Congressional District, in a Packers jersey the piece says: "whatever your political views are, Minnesota will never elect a green-and-gold-bleeding Green Bay fan."
Contacted about the deep dig, Mills sent Hot Dish a lighthearted statement that we thought we should share in full. Here's his reaction:
"Oh! They caught me! Although I never tried to hide it, it would be tough to.
My father became a Packer fan as a kid, a long, long time before the Vikings existed. In 1941 his/our cousin Gene Bierhaus, University of Minnesota All American, was drafted by the Packers to be their Quarterback; that kind of cemented it. Gene never got to play professional football for the Packers though. Instead Gene served in the US Marines during World War II. The extensive wounds our cousin sustained on the battlefield of Iwo Jima prohibited a career in professional sports after the Marines. My father is also good friends with Bud Grant and went to school with him at the University of Minnesota, since and after the time of Bud being the coach of the Vikings we, as a family, have had to take turns as to who we root for. (Seriously) Half the family for the Vikes, and the other for the Packers. I have continued that tradition in my own household, my wife and two step-sons are rabid Vikings fans. I suspect my daughter is going to be a Vikings fan, but my son loves the Green and Gold. My stepdaughter could care less."
Our piece from Wednesday's paper with an update Wednesday morning
Mills Fleet Farm Vice President Stewart Mills III said on Tuesday that he plans to challenge Minnesota Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in the coming election.
“It’s the right message at the right time in the right fashion, and I’m looking forward to getting that message out,” said Mills, who will file his candidate papers next month. The Republican, who won Internet fame for a video he released about gun rights, has long been considering a run but has not spoken for the record about his formal plans until now.
Mills, who considers his lack of political experience a plus, will run in a northern district once considered a Democratic stronghold that has flipped between parties lately. Nolan, who served in Congress decades ago and returned this year, wrested it from one-term Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack after a pitched multimillion-dollar battle that drew national attention.
On Wednesday, Mills will discuss his plans at stops in Duluth, with a tour of London Road Rentals and a discussion with its owners, and a tour of the Mills Fleet Farm construction site in Cambridge. The National Republican Congressional Committee has helped Mills handle his campaign launch and a spokeswoman sent out the release about the Wednesday stops to the Minnesota media.
Nolan is taking Mills’ campaign in stride so far.
“Congressman Nolan welcomes anyone to the race who is willing to run for public office, but his sole focus will continue to be on governing and doing the job he was elected to do — not campaigning. There’s more than enough full-time campaigning going on these days,” Nolan spokesman Steve Johnson said.
Mills, 41, of Nisswa, Minn., said now is the right time to launch his campaign. He said he was inspired to go public with his political views after the congressional gun debate that followed last year’s school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The retail chain executive and father of five at one point released an “open video letter” to Congress featuring shooting at an indoor Mills Fleet Farm range. The video compared the shots from a duck hunting shotgun to a Huldra AR-15 rifle to show that the duck gun was more destructive than the AR-15.
“Gun control isn’t about controlling guns — it’s about controlling people and limiting your freedom,” Mills said in his video, which has been viewed nearly 300,000 times. “We need to stand up for liberty and freedom and ability to defend ourselves in the way that we see fit.”
Mills said if elected to Congress he would defend the Second Amendment, promote market-based health care and work to lift business regulations. Mills said he opposes abortion rights.
He did not take a position on same-sex marriage because he said the state has already decided the issue. Such marriages are to become legal in Minnesota on Aug. 1.
Mills said he plans to fund some of his campaign but expects to rely largely on contributions.
“Am I going to self-fund to a large extent?” he asked. “No. I’m going to work for it.”