Rick Nolan and Stewart Mills Begin 8th District Race on the Offensive

By KBJR News 1

June 8, 2014 Updated Jun 8, 2014 at 11:32 PM CDT

Duluth, Minn. (NNCNow.com) --- In 2012, Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District race was one of the most expensive congressional races in the country.

This year the 8th District race is expected to be just as divisive as it was expensive.

The eighteen county district was a DFL stronghold for sixty–three years.

That is until a 2010 Republican wave and Republican candidate Chip Cravaack ousted the state's longest running Congressman, Jim Oberstar.

Democrats regained the 8th District seat in 2012.

Now national Republicans believe they can reclaim the seat in an off year election with Mills Fleet Farm Vice President, Stewart Mills, as their candidate.

"Stewart is one of the best candidates I have run across in the country, so I will do whatever I can to be helpful to get him to Washington," National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman and Oregon Congressman Greg Walden said. "He'll be a real strong positive voice for this part of Minnesota."

Walden said he is confident in Mills' ability to relate to middle class voters in a House district that faces disproportionate unemployment.

The NRCC Chairman also added that the 8th Congressional District race will be very much in play in 2014.

"They (Democratic Party) just laid down one point one million dollars to attack Stewart right out of the box, so they realize Mr. Nolan is out of touch with his constituents, he’s cast some really bad votes and represents the extreme part of the spectrum," Walden said. "Stewart is none of that. He is positive and very much about main stream America and knows how to create jobs."

On Friday, Congressman Rick Nolan kicked off his first reelection campaign in the 8th Congressional District.

Nolan was joined at the podium by Duluth Mayor Don Ness and Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon.

"During the past two years Congressman Rick Nolan has been a great fighter for the people of North Eastern Minnesota," Prettner Solon said. "Rick’s opponent does not share our middle class values."

Nolan criticized Mills as a "one percenter", running for office to represent the nation's wealthy.

The DFL Congressman is also hitting Mills on a statement the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says he made in 2013.

"He is personally offended – and that is a quote unquote – that the rich should pay more taxes," Nolan said in his campaign speech Friday.

The Mills campaign said the republican candidate never made that statement, replying: "It's disappointing that Rick Nolan has chosen to use divisive class warfare rhetoric to distract voters from his vote against funding out Veterans, his support for gun control, his flip flopping on copper-nickel mining and his belief that Obamacare doesn't go far enough."

"We donate to charity, we help with events, we do a lot of things for this community, and to be singled out as a deadbeat is personally offensive," Mills said in his 2013 speech at a Crow Wing County rally.

Campaign themes like health care will also be central in the November campaign.

The incumbent Congressman praised the Affordable Care Act, but renewed his support for a single payer system.

"I won't stop until we have a single payer, universal national health care," Nolan said.

Mills replied, "Government run, single payer health care is not the way to go. Obamacare is bad enough, but Rick Nolan wants to make it worse."

According to campaign finance reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission, Nolan has raised around $800,000 for his reelection campaign. Mills has raised around $660,000 so far.

This does not include money spent by third party groups like the NRCC and the DCCC.

Nick Minock