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Stewart Mills III, worried about Republican leadership, won't run in 2018

No matter his hair length, he isn't planning to run again in 2018 – here's why.

He was the Brad Pitt of the Republican Party, his signature mane a flowing beacon of Fleet Farm-backed hope for conservatives striving to wrestle northeastern Minnesota away from the Democrats.

But Stewart Mills III as candidate for the 8th Congressional District is no more.

For 2018 at least.

Mills on Wednesday announced he will not run for that U.S. House seat in next year's election. The 45-year-old, whose family started Mills Fleet Farm, was the Republican opponent against Rep. Rick Nolan in 2014.

Mills lost, but not by much.

So he got serious, cut his hair, made a campaign ad that was basically the same as a spoof ad from Veep, and challenged Nolan again in 2016.

He lost again – though by an even slimmer margin than in 2014.

Bothtimes, the race was among the most expensive in the country, as national Democrats and Republicans poured money into a district viewed as a toss-up.


A Republican not named Mills is running for Rick Nolan's seat in 2018

Mills won't be back for 2018. 

He does promise to "to be VERY involved in policy and politics this cycle," he wrote in his announcement, adding he's in the planning stages and will reveal more details later.

He barely lost, so why isn't he running?

Mills is iffy on the state of the Republican Party right now.

According to his announcement, conservative leaders "are recruiting folks without a strategy, polling, or an explainable path to victory." 

He points the finger at the National Republican Congressional Committee, saying these weak candidates being recruited will turn into "sacrificial lambs," as the party strategizes around protecting incumbents.

(Probably related: Mills in his post also blames the NRCC for reneging on some ads, pulling them two weeks before the 2016 election – calling it "a blow" his campaign was "not able to recover from.")

Mills also seems quite worried about the Democrats, who he says "have an impressive offensive strategy" including military veterans, successful business leaders and (Mills quotes Roll Call writer Nathan Gonzales here) "even a scientist who develops life-changing cures."

So the tl;dr for Mills – Republican leadership is sketchy, Democrats have good candidates, so peace out for 2018.

FiveThirtyEight did an early breakdown of the 2018 midterms, if you really want to dig into it. Older white voters tend to cast ballots in non-presidential elections, which favors Republicans. But the popularity of Republican President Donald Trump could impact things – how much though is very, very unclear.

Mills says he could return to politics in 2020 – but only with a "meaningful change of leadership and priorities at the NRCC."

Here's his full Facebook post and announcement if you'd like to read it.

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