In a predominantly Democratic state, national Republican officials believe Stewart Mills, an unconventional candidate running in the 8th Congressional District, could win the election and are buying nearly $1 million in airtime to help his cause, reports the Fairfield Citizen
In one of the only competitive races in the state, the battle between Mills and incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan, who lost his seat and 2010 only to win it back two years later, is attracting plenty of national attention, including more than $2 million from outside groups, according to Federal Election Commission records reviewed by the Fairfield Citizen.
The Washington Post
has noted that Nolan is considered to be one of the top 10 "most vulnerable" House members in the November election.
While the campaigns have mostly stayed on message, the crisis in Syria and Iraq has recently emerged as an issue.
Speaking at a news conference last week in Duluth, Nolan said, "Any such ill-conceived escalation would prove to be a tragic and unnecessary waste of blood and treasure for the United States," according to an official press release
Nolan is demanding President Obama come to Congress before he takes any further action against the Islamic State (ISIS).
Mills did not release an immediate response on the conflict overseas, but told the Duluth News Tribune that "people within the 8th District aren't necessarily concerned with foreign policy first," according to NNCNOW.com.
Obama won the district with 52 percent of the vote in 2012 — just one percentage point less than John Kerry's winning performance in 2004, according to the National Journal.
The 42-year old Mills has been stressing the skills he developed working in his family business and his support for the Second Amendment, while criticizing Nolan's support for Obama.
Mills is the vice president of Mills Fleet Farm, headquartered in Brainerd, Minnesota, and is the plan administrator and fiduciary of the Mills Companies innovative, self-insured $34 million health plan covering over 6,000 participants.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported Mills early in the race with a $500,000 donation.
"Democrats are going to be pushing the narrative that they're for the little guy and the common man, but at the end, it's the little guy and the common man that gets crushed by the Democratic policies," said Mills at a recent campaign stop, according to the National Journal.
Nolan's campaign, on the other hand, is hoping to portray Mills as an out-of-touch multimillionaire who opposes raising the minimum wage.
"Minnesotans know that Rick Nolan is a lifelong hunter who has their back when it comes to the Second Amendment, but if Stewart Mills III wants to talk about what makes this race special, it's that he's a multimillionaire who's self-funding his own campaign and thinks it's personally offensive to ask that the super wealthy pay their fair share," Rep. Nolan's communications director, Sacha Haworth told the National Journal
The Democrats' line of attack drew controversy earlier this summer when the Democratic House Majority PAC aired an ad which contended Mills was "personally offended" that wealthy Americans would have to pay higher taxes.
After the Mills campaign challenged the veracity of the ad, it was eventually pulled from local television stations, reports Minnesota Public Radio
Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party also has joined in the battle, launching the "Personally Offensive Tour,"
which aimed to highlight Mills' misstatement of the state's unemployment rate.
While attending an event in Duluth in June, Mills said, "We have an 8 percent unemployment rate currently. Contrast that with a 4.5 percent unemployment rate statewide. We know we can do better," reports to WDIO-TV.
However, as the DFL has noted along its tour, the unemployment rate in Minnesota in May was 6.3 percent.
The tour kicked off outside the Georgia Pacific plant in Duluth, which, the DFL notes, "was closed nearly two years ago by Mills' financial supporters, the oil billionaire Koch brothers."
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