Mills Fleet Farm Vice President Stewart Mills III formally launched his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan with campaign events Thursday in Cloquet and Rush City.
The rollout came nearly four months after he first announced his plans to carry the Republican mantle in northern Minnesota’s Eighth District, which has been largely in DFL hands for the past half century.
His announcement came amid signs of a potential break in the 10-day old government shutdown, which was brought on by GOP attempts to defund President Obama’s health care overhaul as a part of an annual spending resolution that would continue government operations past Sept. 30.
“I wish we wouldn’t have gotten there,” Mills said in an interview. “Certainly, I’m not in Congress, and I don’t have a voice in the process.”
And if he did, would he have joined in the GOP votes to link Obamacare to the spending resolution? “I’m not there, so it’s impossible for me to know.”
Mills, a third-generation member of the Mills Fleet Farm family empire, owns assets worth between $46 million and $150 million, according to personal financial reports filed with Congress.
Some of that wealth could be put to use in his campaign, though he said he “can’t say how much.”
But he made clear he won’t be entirely self-funded. “I’m raising funds. I’m engaged in all aspects of the campaign,” he said. “Certainly, I’m not going to ask my donors to do something I’m not willing to do for myself.”
He likened his quest to the “hunting camp doctrine,” which holds that if you’re going to complain about something, you need to get involved in fixing it.
The Minnesota DFL put out a statement Thursday branding him a "Tea Party extremist."
Mills’ said his campaign will emphasize “fiscal sanity,” job creation (“I know what it’s like to create jobs”), the Constitution (“including but not limited to the Second Amendment”), and defunding Obamacare.
The National Republican Congressional Committee today begin airing radio ads attacking House Democrats in swing districts, including U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan and Tim Walz, for refusing to defund the Affordable Care Act
Republicans aim to frame the federal government shutdown around President Obama's health care reform law, also known as Obamacare.
And Walz, Nolan and eight other Democrats are among the targets. The NRCC did not indicate the size of the ad buy or how often they’ll run.
“How out-of-touch is Tim Walz with Minnesota families? So out-of-touch that she voted to shut down the government in order to protect Congress’ taxpayer funded healthcare!” the start of the script for the Walz ad reads.
An identical script will run on ads criticizing Nolan.
Despite the shutdown, the online insurance marketplaces for the Affordable Care Act debuted Tuesday, albeit with glitches.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also went on the offensive this week, running automated telephone calls targeting 63 House Republicans over the budget crisis, including Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen.
The script from the Kline’s call reads:
“While you were sleeping Congressman John Kline shut down the government. You heard that right. But even worse – Congressman Kline is still getting paid – and he’s not listening to our frustration. All because of his demand to take away your benefits and protect insurance company profits.”
The script reads the same for Paulsen, but technically he and Kline are not getting paid during the shutdown. They've requested that their pay be withheld until it ends.
In a fundraising pitch to supporters on Tuesday, Cravaack put his name behind GOP hopeful Stewart Mills, a scion of the retail giant who is running to unseat DFLer Rick Nolan, who is serving in his second stint in Congress.
Cravaack attributed his own loss in 2012 to “a very well-funded Obama Campaign Machine in Minnesota and across the country.” He also blamed “liberal special interests.”
Although Cravaack may not be the comeback kid, his old mailing list could be a boost to Mills, who is also a newcomer to politics in a northern Minnesota district that has been in DFL hands for decades, minus Cravaack’s two-year term.
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:
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