MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Thursday night NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers is so big it even affects political strategy.

That’s why the campaigns made sure they’re noticed going into the game.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson’s campaign strategy included a major financial commitment to be on television during the game, when 70 percent of Minnesota viewers will be watching.

“Vikings versus Packers. Thursday night in prime time. Largest audience leading up to the election that we’re going to have here in Minnesota,” said Johnson communications director Jeff Bakken. “So, of course we want Jeff Johnson to be part of it.”

Both parties reserved time for political ads during the NFL game: 7 from Republicans, 5 from Democrats.

Not only are Democrats continuing the air war against 8th District Republican candidate Stewart Mills, the Minnesota DFL Party sent thousands of mailers to voters in the district, accusing Mills of a political crime: He’s a Packer backer.

“On the eve of tonight’s Packers/Vikings game, it’s clear that Packer Backer and Millionaire Stewart Mills III could use a better defense,” said a statement from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Is Stewart Mills a Packer fan? Yes.

The Mills campaign says his father was a Green Bay Packer fan before the Minnesota Vikings existed, and went to school at the University of Minnesota with Bud Grant.

A Mills cousin was drafted by the Packers as quarterback, but never played because of World War II injuries.

The candidate’s father, Stewart Mills Junior, is an emeritus member of the Packer Board of Directors.

And Mills says half of his family are Vikings fans, and the other half root for the Pack.

Pat Kessler

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