MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District is unexpectedly among the most hotly-contested House races in the country.

Outside groups are on a spending spree, pumping millions of dollars into television ads attacking Democrat Rick Nolan and Republican Stewart Mills.

Mills, whose family founded the popular sporting goods chain stores Mills Fleet Farm, is especially being targeted. Minnesota voters learned a lot about him through Democratic ads attacking his hair.

“It costs a lot to get this look,” says one ad, showing Mills repeatedly fussing with his longish hair before a television interview.

A barrage of negative ads also target Mills’ wealth with exaggerated scenes of rich lifestyles.

The ads are so over the top, Mills’ Democratic opponent Nolan is calling on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to take them down.

“The campaign is not about his hair or his wealth, it’s what kind of public policies that you advocate,” Nolan said. “If I could call the DCCC and say, ‘Take those ads off the air,’ I would. I don’t like ’em, my friends and supporters don’t like ’em and I don’t think they are doing us any good.”

The DCCC has already spent $3,037,051 on TV ads targeting Mills. And Republicans, through the Republican National Campaign Committee, have spent $2,304,045 on negative ads against Nolan.

In fact, outside groups are outspending the candidates themselves by a margin of more than 2-1.

So far, Democrat Nolan and Republican Mills together have spent more than $3.4 million on the campaign. Nolan has spent $1,729,551, and Mills has spent $1,700,704.

Outside groups have spent $7,714,227, almost all of it on attack ads.

The round-the-clock anti-Mills ads may have backfired, making him more recognizable to voters.

A KSTP/SurveyUSA poll in the 8th District has Mills up eight points on the incumbent Congressman Nolan – 47 percent to 39 percent.

Asked if Mills would call for the RNCC to take down anti-Nolan ads, Mills campaign spokeswoman Chloe Rockow issued this statement:

“Rick Nolan is all talk when it comes to money in politics. He claims he doesn’t like the ads his friends in DC are running, but cries foul when they’re pulled from the air for misleading voters. The bottom line is that voters in the 8th Congressional District deserve to know about Rick’s embarrassing record on Obamacare, the 2nd Amendment and EPA regulations. His Washington politics don’t match his Minnesota talking points, and voters deserve better.”

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

National Republican Campaign Committee Anti-Nolan Ads


Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Anti-Mills Ads

MN-8 One of Most Expensive House Races in US

MN Congressional Spending, All Races

DCCC Spending MN-8

RNCC Spending MN-8

National Republican Congressional Committee

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

Pat Kessler