FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — If you’re running for political office, there’s no better place to be than the State Fair. Almost 2 million people are expected at the Great Minnesota Get Together this year.
That’s what brought one of Minnesota’s best known Congressional candidates to the Fairgrounds today. Republican 8th District candidate Stewart Mills met up with WCCO’s Pat Kessler.
The Stewart Mills-Rick Nolan race in northern Minnesota’s 8th District two years ago was one of the most controversial, most expensive and most entertaining races in the country. This year should be more of the same.
Just so there’s no misunderstanding: Stewart Mills says he loves the State Fair, but he’s anxious to get back to campaigning in Northern Minnesota.
Mills lost a hard fought “outsider” campaign by 3,700 votes in 2014. This time around, he says voter unrest about government is stronger than he’s ever seen.
“It cuts across mining, timber, paper, farming, construction, you name it — the federal government has its fingers in, and it’s more expensive and it takes longer,” Mills said. “That’s why jobs in our part of Minnesota are suffering.”
The Mills campaign is running ads about low-level jobs the candidate held, including pulling parts at a junkyard, but he’s also the heir to the Mills Fleet Farm store chain, which the family recently sold.
“I worked at the car business in the summer, but then I worked at Fleet Farm during the school year, on nights and weekends,” he said.
At the Minnesota Republican Party booth, Fair-goers are lining up for photos with a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump. Mills says he disagrees with some of Trumps more controversial comments, but is fulfilling a promise to support the party nominee, whoever it is.
“Donald Trump — he became the nominee of our party, he put on that red jersey — and I’m not going to tackle people on my team,” Mills said.
Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District is once again considered one of the most competitive races in the country. Except for one brief Republican term, it’s been a reliably Democratic district for decades, but this volatile election year: some political experts believe its up for grabs.