Republican Mills opts out on running again against Nolan
Former Republican candidate for Minnesota's 8th Congressional District Stewart Mills III will not run for the seat a third time in 2018, he announced late Wednesday on Facebook.
In the post, Mills opened by thanking his supporters, but transitioned to explaining why he lost the 2016 election against incumbent Democrat Rick Nolan.
"As much as I am warmed by your unwavering support, I feel that in a way I let you down and need to explain our loss in the 2016 cycle, a loss of only 2,009 votes," Mills said.
It was evident Mills held a grudge from 2016 toward the National Republican Congressional Committee, a national GOP political group. The NRCC pulled its funding from Mills' campaign two weeks before Election Day, Mills wrote in the post.
"Even if I wanted to reach deeper into my own pocket to replace that broadcast media exposure, there wasn't enough time to do so," Mills wrote of the 2016 campaign. "The NRCC succeeded in doing something the Democrats were unable to do, leave us flat footed and unable to mount a commensurate campaign."
He went on to say the move was "inexcusable."
Furthermore, candidates the NRCC is recruiting for 2018 don't stand a chance against the Democratic recruits, which included veterans and businesses executives, Mills said.
"The Republicans, in my direct and personal experience, are recruiting folks without a strategy, polling, or an explainable path to victory," Mills wrote. "In my opinion, these candidates will be the sacrificial lambs the NRCC will build their incumbent protection strategy upon. If there is a meaningful change of leadership and priorities at the NRCC, I might be open to looking at another run in the 2020 cycle."
Mills asked not to be contacted by the media, as he was focusing on other projects to be unveiled in the future. Contacted Wednesday, Mills confirmed the post but said he had no further comment.
Mills said he intends to remain involved in politics in the coming year, just not as a candidate. He hedged a bit in closing his message, noting that "as things change I will continue to review options and possibilities, but at the present time I plan not to run for any office this cycle."
Nolan said it was too soon to tell whether Mills’ choice not to run improved Nolan’s odds for keeping his congressional seat.
“I think it’s a good decision on his part,” Nolan said. “I wish him well on his future projects and endeavors.”
Nolan agreed with Mills’ Facebook message the political winds may finally be at Democrats’ backs in 2018, he said.
The head of the 8th District DFL, Justin Perpich, quickly jumped on the announcement.
"When one of the richest, most recognizable names in Minnesota GOP politics skips an opportunity to run for Congress again and burns the national party in the process, you know the GOP is in disarray," Perpich wrote in a statement. "The DFL has a slate of incredible candidates at every level of the ballot in 2018, and today's statement from Mills is a testament to the strength of the DFL party."
Nolan is facing a Democratic primary challenge next year from Two Harbors native Leah Phifer. St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber is in the 8th District race as a Republican, and Duluth's Skip Sandman has announced his candidacy as an independent.