Reporting Pat Kessler
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A candidate with a well-known Minnesota name has jumped into the race for Congress.
Stewart Mills, a third generation vice president of the Midwest retail chain store Mills Fleet Farm, is a Republican running to unseat the incumbent Democratic Congressman Rick Nolan.
The 41-year-old son of the Mills Fleet Farm family said he’s the last person he expected to run for Congress, but he said he’s following the hunting camp rules he learned as a child.
“In our part of Minnesota, when you go to a campsite or to a hunting camp most have a sign that says leave this place better than what you found it,” Mills said.
Mills was already well known from a YouTube video that went viral, in which he said some Minnesota members of Congress were uninformed about firearms and the Second Amendment.
“Hopefully this video letter will educate and inform our uninformed and misguided Congress and senators,” he said in the video, which has nearly 500,000 hits.
Mills said he wants to repeal and replace Obamacare, but didn’t say how.
And he would not say if he supports the current government shutdown, although he called D.C. dysfunction “sickening.”
“The partisanship that has taken place in Washington D.C., where the whole school year they call each other ugly and then they want to go to the prom with each other at the last minute,” he said. “It just doesn’t work that way.”
Minnesota’s 8th is a Democratic district, and President Obama won the district twice. John Kerry won it the time before that.
But it changed hands in 2008, and again in 2010, so Republicans are hoping to put it in play.
Under the right circumstances, political analysts said there’s a window for success.
“It’s a mid-term election, so turnout will be lower,” said Kathryn Pearson, political science professor at the University of Minnesota. “And a candidate that can generate a lot of name recognition, can generate a lot of campaign contributions — not just in the district, but all over the country — does have the potential to make this race competitive.”
Democrats responded fiercely to Mills’ announcement today, calling him a “Tea Party extremist.”
“The last thing Washington needs is another hyper-partisan, uncompromising Tea Partier like Michele Bachmann or Ted Cruz,” Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said.
Steve Johnson, a spokesman for Nolan, said the Congressman’s “sole focus will continue to be on governing and doing the job he was elected to do – not campaigning.”