With an insider’s eye, Hot Dish tracks the tastiest bits of Minnesota’s political scene and keep you up-to-date on those elected to serve you.

Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

Posts about 8th District

VP Biden office confirms trip to Hibbing Oct. 23

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 15, 2014 - 1:46 PM

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden's office confirmed Wednesday the veep will travel to Minnesota for a rally to help Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan Oct. 23.

The rally will be held in Hibbing.

No additional details were given, but a blogger working at Hibbing Community College confirmed it would be held at the school.

The trip will come just a week and a half before Election Day amid the state's most contested Congressional district race. Nolan, who is in his first current term, faces GOP challenger Stewart Mills, whose family launched Mills Fleet Farm stores in 1922. Nolan also served in the House of Representatives in the 1970s.

Most polls put the race close, within the margin of error, though a Democratic Campaign Congressional Committeee internal poll released earlier this month showed Nolan gaining on Mills. 

The NRA's mixed bedfellows: Stewart Mills, Collin Peterson

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 9, 2014 - 10:43 AM

WASHINGTON -- The National Rifle Association threw support behind two Minnesotans on Wednesday hoping to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives: an incumbent Democrat and a Republican challenger.

Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, who was earlier named best marksman in the U.S. Congress, garnered the endorsement of the NRA Wednesday. Peterson is running to keep his Seventh Congressional District seat against GOP challenger Torrey Westrom.

"Throughout his career, Collin Peterson has consistently opposed all attempts to ban lawfully owned firearms and magazines and has stood strong against the Obama-Bloomberg agenda, said Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA's Political Victory Fund.

This is an unusual move for the NRA, which almost always endorses Republicans, though the organization seems to like Peterson since this is the fourth time they've backed him. The only other known Democrat endorsed this week by the group is a Georgia congressman.

The organization also endorsed Republican Stewart Mills, who is running to unseat Democrat Rep. Rick Nolan in the Eighth Congressional District.

"Over five million active NRA members, many of them in our part of Minnesota, know that the Second Amendment is about so much more than just hunting -- and they know we need a representative who will stand up for those rights," Mills' camp said in a statement. 

A few hours after saying he is not a Tea Partyer, Tea Party Express endorses Stewart Mills

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 7, 2014 - 6:00 PM

WASHINGTON -- In a debate early Tuesday in Duluth, GOP House candidate Stewart Mills said it wasn't accurate to portray him as aligned with the Tea Party.

"I keep getting accused (of) being a Tea Partyer and I'm not sure that's entirely accurate," Mills said, when answering a question about the virtues of the Keystone oil sands pipeline in a debate with Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and Green Party candidate Ray "Skip" Sandman.

A few hours later, the Tea Party Express threw its support behind Mills, saying he "isn't your typical politican. He is someone that understands hard work and will stop at nothing in order to fix a problem -- traits he picked up from his family's hunting-camp doctrine."

Coupled with the national endorsement, were statements of support by local liberty movement leaders, including Douglas Mickelson, a Tea Party activist in Walker, who said:

"As a hunter and gun owner I know Stewart will protect our Second Amendment rights and that excites me."

Mills' camp responded Tuesday, noting, "We welcome the endorsements of all political persuasions, from the National Rifle Association to the Farm Bureau, from the National Federation of Independent Businesses to the Fraternal Order of Police."

Nolan, Mills duke it out over health care, guns, tax reform

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 7, 2014 - 4:06 PM

Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan and his GOP challenger Stewart Mills sparred over guns, Obamacare, tax reform and even engaged in a little class warfare at an early morning debate in Duluth.

The Eighth Congressional District fight is Minnesota's hottest race. Nolan is defending the seat he's had for just one current term against Stewart Mills, a 42-year-old political nascent and scion to Mills Fleet Farm.

Before it started, the debate had the trappings of being a little sleepy. It started at 8 a.m., the candidates sat down in a coffee table format, and the third-party candidate Ray "Skip" Sandman also participated, slowing down the fiery dialogue between Mills and Nolan.

In spite of all that, Mills and Nolan drew sharp contrasts, lashing out at each other's differences on reforming the Affordable Care Act, copper-nickel mining and tax reform.

Nolan took multiple swipes at Mills' net worth, which is between $47 million and $153 million, according to personal financial disclosures.

"I know what it's like to build a business from the bottom up and create jobs ... but if we want to rebuild this middle class we need to get away from this trickle down theory," Nolan said, when asked about tax reform. "Stewart, you made more money ... sitting here in an hour and a half ... than the minimum wage earner will make in a week ... The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer."

Mills defended his company and his family, saying they work hard and play hard and building the business meant it "may get a little bit bloody sometimes." After noting the IRS has been "weaponized against the American people," Mills said he wanted to flatten the tax code to be friendlier to Main Street.

Throughout the debate, Mills referred to Nolan as "Representative Nolan' while Nolan called the third-party candidate "Mr. Sandman" and Mills "Stew" or "Stewart."

On guns, Mills touted his endorsement by the National Rifle Association and said Nolan's positions on banning semi-automatic weapons and limiting magazine capacity were not in line with the District's values.

"We need to enforce the laws we currently have rather than making up new ones," Mills said.

Nolan flared, "I don't need a semi-automatic rifle to shoot a duck," he said. "Maybe you do, maybe you should spend more time on your shooting range."

Polls show the Mills/Nolan race within a couple points of each other and national political forecasters call it a "toss-up." The Eighth Congressional District is politically whimsical, electing Republican Chip Cravaak in the 2010 Tea Party sweep and then elected Nolan two years later.

Nolan has consistently out-fundraised Mills, even though Mills has donated more than $150,000 of his own money to his campaign. Nolan's camp said yesterday the incumbent brought in $641,000 since July -- his best quarter to date. Mills' campaign declined to say how much the candidate raised in the third-quarter Tuesday.

Mills said he supported both the construction of the Keystone oil sands pipeline and the Sandpiper line, which will deliver crude from North Dakota to an existing terminal in Wisconsin. He said Nolan has been inconsistent in his support for the new lines.

"We're not quite sure where Rep. Nolan is," he said. "He can say he's for it right now, but where's he going to be tomorrow?"

Nolan said he also favored both projects as long as they followed environmental rules. Nolan said he grew up at a time when "condoms" and "turds" polluted rivers and acid rain was wreaking havoc on forests. 

"I submit that we must be compliant with good, sound, environmental rules and regulations and we have the technology to move forward with mining," he said. "We need to protect our environment as well."

On Obamacare, Mills said he favored a health care plan that protects people with pre-existing conditions but supports reforming it, allowing people to buy and sell plans across state lines and tort reform.

Nolan, who favors a single-payer system, snapped, "Now Mills is saying he supports many of the things in the ACA and then he is saying he wants to repeal it. Talk about double-speak ... It's starting to smell like a barn on a warm Sunday afternoon."

Dem poll on 8th CD: Nolan widening lead on Mills

Posted by: Allison Sherry Updated: October 1, 2014 - 4:11 PM

WASHINGTON -- A Democratic poll released Wednesday showed Democrat Rep. Rick Nolan leading his GOP challenger Stewart Mills by 11 points, and Green Party candidate Ray "Skip" Sandman garnering 7 percent.

The poll, paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was a survey of 405 likely voters in the Eighth Congressional District from Sept. 25-28. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percent.

Of those polled, 48 percent said they favored Nolan and 37 percent supported Mills. Nine percent of those polled were still undecided, according to the survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.

The same tracking survey in July showed Nolan leading Mills by only two points, 43 to 41. At that time, Sandman was at 6 percent and 10 percent of voters were undecided.

"Nolan still has work to do, but he has withstood thousands of points of attack ads well," the pollster said in the memo.

Minnesota's 8th  is considered among the state's hottest, with more than $2 million already pouring in from independent groups. Most political forecasters still dub it a "toss-up."

In campaign finance reports filed over the summer, Nolan had outraised Mills and had $624,000 on hand to the challenger's $356,617.

Fresh third-quarter reports will be released by Oct. 15.

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