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.