Stewart Mills plans another run for Congress against Rick Nolan


Businessman Stewart Mills says he is gearing up to take another shot at unseating U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District in next year's election.

Mills, a Republican, said over the weekend he has set up an exploratory committee and will likely make an official announcement in mid-October, according to MPR News.

Nolan, a Democrat, defeated Mills in 2014 by less than 1.5 percentage points in one of the closest – and most expensive – congressional contests in the nation. The candidates and outside groups spent more than $12 million on the campaign, MPR News reports.

And very shortly, it will begin again.

"(I am) almost certainly running for the Eighth Congressional District," Mills said in an interview with the Northland News Center Wednesday. "We are going to pick up right where we left off."

Already, some television ads targeting Nolan have aired in the Duluth and Twin Cities markets, claiming he is soft on terrorism. The ads were paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to the Northland News Center.

Nolan said this summer he intends to run for re-election next year. He also told Roll Call he's not at all surprised that Mills will be back in the race.

“He was in town, I think, last week raising money and telling people he’s going to run again,” Nolan told the publication a few days ago.

Some of the dynamics will be different this time around.

*Mills now has higher name recognition than last time around, which was his first bid for elective office.

*Mills no longer has his signature long locks. He cut his hair much shorter after a barbecue accident in July.

Roll Call notes that Mills' long hair may have turned off some conservative voters in the 8th District last time around.

*The top of the ticket is different. Two years ago there was no presidential race, but in 2016 there will be. Democrats typically turn out to vote in greater numbers in presidential election years.

*The 2nd District race, which is open due to the retirement of Republican Rep. John Kline, will likely attract more attention from the national parties than the 8th, according to MPR News.

Still, given Nolan's close call in 2014, he is a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline Program which focuses on its most vulnerable incumbents.

Nolan, 71, is in his second term in this chapter of his congressional career, but he previously served in the House in Minnesota’s 6th District from 1975 to 1981.

Mills, 43, is vice president of his family’s business, Mills Fleet Farm based in Brainerd, which has 32 retail locations. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported he had a net worth of at least $34 million last year.

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