MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The top candidates in Minnesota’s hotly contested 8th Congressional District race squared off in their first debate today.
Democratic incumbent Congressman Rick Nolan and Republican businessman Stewart Mills debated guns, social security, and health care in the Duluth forum.
Mills and Nolan bringing two sharply different strategies. Mills is focusing on what he says is a deeply troubled economy.
“There is so much anger and frustration all over our part of Minnesota,” Mills said. “I will fight for people that are stuck in the middle, and give them a pathway to get ahead.”
Nolan is warning that Republicans will roll back benefits for blue collar workers.
“This is all about who you’re for,” Nolan said.
Northern Minnesota’s sprawling 8th Congressional District has voted Republican only once in the last 69 years. Two years ago, Nolan squeaked out a victory, and this year both parties think they can win.
In TV ads, national Democrats are mocking Mills as a shallow rich kid, and Republicans caricature Nolan as an old man, oblivious to terrorism.
Despite a terror attack at a St. Cloud Mall on Saturday, the subject of domestic terrorism and ISIS did not come up. The most heated exchange coming when Nolan accused Mills of wanting to privatize Social Security and Medicare.
“Congressman Nolan, with all due respect, that’s a lie,” Mills said, who proposed a bipartisan solution to reform Social Security. “My first condition is that it is bi-partisan.”
“You said all options are on the table,” Nolan retorted.
“As long as it is bipartisan,” Mills persisted.
“I don’t care if it is bipartisan, non-partisan or some other kind of weird partisan,” Nolan said. “I am not about to privatize Social Security and Medicare. I don’t care where it comes from.”
The 8th District race is a rematch of the 2014 campaign, which Mills lost by only 3,700 votes.