Republican Stewart Mills, who came within 4,000 votes of defeating Democratic Congressman Rick Nolan in 2014, will challenge Nolan again in 2016.
In a statement released by his campaign, Mills said "the status quo is not sustainable and new ideas are badly needed." Mills continued, "Obamacare continues to hurt working class families; too many folks in the 8th District struggle with unemployment, and our mining industries are suffering."
"Rick Nolan is a far-left liberal," said Mills in an interview, adding, "he's out of step with our part of Minnesota - our ideals and our priorities."
Mills, whose family founded Mills Fleet Farm, disputes the notion that running against Nolan in a year with a presidential election will give the edge to Democrats in Minnesota like Nolan.
He believes his chances of defeating Nolan, who announced in July he would seek re-election, are better in 2016 because there will be no race for the U.S. Senate or governor to impact his election.
"It opens up a wide territory for the race to largely be about Rick Nolan and myself," said Mills. His campaign has done polling which Mills said shows the race for president not giving Nolan a boost in Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District. "I have definite path to victory," said Mills.
In 2014, Republicans selected Mike McFadden to be their candidate for the U.S. Senate and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson as the Republican candidate for governor.
Both candidates were defeated by wide margins on Election Day and Mills believes this was a contributing factor in Nolan's close margin of victory.
"It was a tough year for Republicans in Minnesota," said Mills. "The top of the ticket was an anchor around our necks," added Mills.
Ted Lovdahl, chair of the Eighth Congressional District Republican, said this morning he was "very excited" that Mills would challenge Nolan again for Congress. Lovdahl agreed with Mills' assessment of the political landscape and said Mills has a better change of defeating Nolan next year than he did in 2014.
Mills keeps his narrow loss in 2014 in perspective, noting that Nolan was unsuccessful in his first run for Congress and adding that both Congressman John Kline and Congressman Collin Peterson ran multiple times before eventually winning.
UPDATE: Congressman Rick Nolan's office released the following statement regarding Mills' candidacy:
"I welcome Mr. Mills III back into the race, and I'm looking forward to a positive campaign based on facts and issues affecting the voters in the 8th Congressional District- a campaign very much different from the negative and misleading campaign Mr. Mills III and his allies have already launched against me here in the 8th District."
UPDATE #2: The Minnesota DFL released the following statement in response to Mills' candidacy:
“Today, Stewart Mills III announced that he’s running against Congressman Rick Nolan. Again. In a national sweep of Republican victories last cycle, the voters of the 8th district rejected Stewart Mills III. They didn’t like his backwards positions in 2014 and they won’t like them now. Despite his new hairstyle, Mills III is still just another Tea Party extremist who would rather promote his failed policies than solve problems that would help grow the middle class.
“The last thing Minnesotans need is a hyper-partisan, stubborn extremist who is long on rhetoric and short on solutions. I believe in 2016 that voters will again support the candidate who stands with working families to create opportunities for all, not a chosen few.”
Picture source: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune