Rick Nolan calls out Stewart Mills on minimum wage

By KBJR News 1

August 1, 2014 Updated Aug 2, 2014 at 12:34 AM CDT

DULUTH, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) --- Republican Congressional candidate, Stewart Mills, is gaining traction among voters in the 8th Congressional District race.

The non–partisan Cook Political Report has shifted its' assessment of the 8th District race from leaning Democratic to a tossup.

With this shift in mind, Congressman Rick Nolan is talking up an issue that may play well with 8th District voters.

Minnesota Democrats are calling the increase in the state's minimum wage a "victory."

Many Republicans in the Minnesota legislature fought the minimum wage hike of $9.50 an hour.

Now that Minnesota's minimum wage has increased to $8.00 an hour, Republican gubernatorial candidate, Marty Seifert, says the discussion over increasing the minimum wage will spill into the national debate.

"We are in the top tier now for all the states," Seifert said. "Even the Democrats agree that Minnesota is done dealing with the issue, so it's really going to be a federal issue."

Increasing the federal minimum wage is front and center in Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District race.

"Stewart Mills is against increasing the minimum wage," an AFSCME television ad says.

The statement is true, but according to the Mill's campaign that is not the whole story.

"Stewart does not support an increase in the federal minimum wage," said Mills campaign spokesperson Chloe Rockow. "But that's because he thinks that the best way to create jobs, the best way to help people in minimum wage jobs is to make sure that there are better paying jobs; more jobs that require higher skills and the way to get those jobs is to grow the economy."

Mills says his company, Mills Fleet Farm, pays its employees a rate above the state minimum wage.

Congressman Rick Nolan is taking aim at Mills' position.

“Ironically, my opponent, Stewart Mills III, is paid $570,000 a year – nearly $300 an hour – by his family firm, even though $45 an hour is the going rate for a position like his," Nolan said. "And yet he has the audacity to oppose raising the minimum wage for everyday hardworking Americans to $10.10 an hour?"

Duluth DFL lawmakers are lining up behind Nolan's position as he pushes for a national minimum wage of $10.10 an hour.

"Congressman Nolan readily admits it should be a federal issue – if for no other reason – we shouldn't have competition among the states," Minnesota State Representative Erik Simonson said.

Simonson says it is simply a matter of being in touch with your constituency.

"Because so many of them are working for minimum wage – like I said - working two or three jobs to make ends meet, so it is a huge issue for our (congressional) district," Erikson said.

Nick Minock