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.
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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
WASHINGTON -- The same day GOP House Speaker John Boehner is in Minnesota throwing a fundraiser for himself at the Minneapolis Club, he will traverse up to the Eighth Congressional District for a fundraiser for GOP challenger Stewart Mills.
Boehner will host a fundraiser for Mills, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan, at the Grand View Lodge in Nisswa Aug. 14.
Gold sponsors of the fundraiser include Stanley and Karen Hubbard, executives of Hubbard Broadcasting.
The company, which owns two television stations, was under fire from Democrats earlier this month for pulling negative ads against Mills from their television stations in northern Minnesota. Mills says the independent ads were inaccurate, though they kept running in other parts of the state.
General admission tickets for the Boehner-Mills shindig run $250, but for $10,400 you can get four seats at the "VIP roundtable" and eight spots at the "VIP photo opportunity" and "eight spots to the general reception."
On Wednesday, Republican Stewart Mills bragged to supporters that his campaign got a television ad against him "yanked." But the ad is still running across the state.
The ad, from the AFSCME union and the Democratic House Majority PAC, uses tape to quote Mills as saying he is offended by the idea that high earners are not paying enough in taxes. Mills is hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in the Eighth District.
"The idea that the wealthy aren't paying their fair share… 2 percent, the 1 percent whatever percent you want... is personally offensive," the ad quotes Mills as saying.
After the ad was released and aired, the Mills campaign said it was misleading and spliced together sentences.
"To be singled out as a deadbeat is personally offensive," the campaign quotes Mills, a scion of the Mills Fleet Farm fortune, as actually saying.
It asked stations not to run the ad. At least two stations, owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, complied. Hubbard Broadcasting is owned by Stanley Hubbard, a Mills donor and mega-contributor to Republican and conservative causes in Minnesota and nationally.
But other stations are continuing to air the ad.
In fact, House Majority PAC communications director Matt Thornton said, and public documents make clear, the groups have bought more air time to air the ad on other stations after the Hubbard stations declined to run the ad. Thornton said since July 22, the groups have spent a combined $675,000 to run the anti-Mills ad.
The Eighth District race is on the radar for many national groups and is considered one of the most competitive in the county. Nolan has served one term after snatching the district from one-term Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack. Cravaack ousted longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar from his seat.
Here's the ad in question:
Here is the fundraising email Mills sent out:
Roll Call says two Democratic members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation -- Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Rick Nolan -- could face tough re-election races this fall.
According to the Capitol Hill newspaper, Franken is among the 10 most vulnerable senators this election cycle, but is “probably headed back to the Senate.”
The piece notes that Franken “drew strong Republican opponent in Mike McFadden, a businessman with fundraising chops.” McFadden faces state Rep. Jim Abeler in Tuesday’s GOP primary.
Noting Stewart Mills III’s campaign in the Eighth Congressional District, the paper says Nolan is among the 10 most vulnerable House members. Roll Call rates the Eighth Congressional District race as “leans Democratic,” meaning Nolan remains favored to win. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a “toss-up.”
Here’s the passage on Franken:
Franken is sitting on $5 million in a state Obama won twice, giving him a decided edge in his race for re-election. But Franken drew a strong Republican opponent in Mike McFadden, a businessman with fundraising chops to make it competitive, and the personal resources to help his campaign along. Even Minnesota Democrats acknowledge it will likely be tight. But, as of right now, Franken is probably headed back to the Senate.
Here’s what Roll Call had to say about the Nolan-Mills race:
After a three-decade hiatus from the House, Nolan defeated a one-term member last cycle and came back to Congress. This November, Nolan faces a well-financed foe in businessman Stewart Mills, who is capable of self-funding. Mills is well-known among the district’s residents because of his family’s chain of popular farm and sporting goods equipment stores.
Democratic operatives add that while the district favors Democrats, it has grown more competitive over the years. What’s more, Nolan’s distaste for fundraising could put him at a disadvantage in the fall.