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Stewart Mills, millionaire from Brainerd, won't seek GOP endorsement for Congress

Stewart Mills

DULUTH -- Stewart Mills said on Facebook on Tuesday, Feb. 27, that he won’t run for the Republican Party endorsement in the race to fill Minnesota’s open 8th Congressional District seat.

In making the announcement, the multi-millionaire businessman from Brainerd thanked his supporters and told them he was moved by their belief in him. Mills had initially announced in November that he would not run in 2018, but said he received an outpouring of renewed encouragement to seek the endorsement following the retirement announcement from incumbent Rep. Rick Nolan, DFL-Crosby, in early February.

Following three weeks of study, Mills pulled the plug on a potential third straight run at the seat.

“I finished my review of (the) data and completed other due diligence last night and have decided not to run,” Mills wrote.

Candidates can file for office into June, but the Mills news paves a clear path for Pete Stauber to the Republican endorsement. Stauber, of Hermantown, announced his candidacy last summer and had raised nearly $300,000 at last count.

“I wish Stewart the best of luck in his future endeavors,” Stauber said in a statement to the News Tribune. “As for our campaign, we continue to be laser focused on achieving a win in November.”

The 8th Congressional District GOP endorsement convention is May 5 at Park Rapids High School.

Mills had previously lost to Nolan in 2014 and 2016 — narrow losses which came up again in Mills’ appeal to supporters.

“I can never thank you all enough for everything we came together on and nearly accomplished,” he said. “Even though the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, we strengthened the resolve of many by standing firm for our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and our individual liberties.”

Mills said many of the issues he championed remain relevant in the upcoming election, including fiscal discipline and health care reform.

“Even though those issues are just as important as they were in previous election cycles, I would like to reconfirm my decision not to run this election cycle,” Mills said.

While Stauber is the lone GOP candidate in the race at this point, there is a crowded field of declared DFL candidates vying for endorsement, including Leah Phifer of Isanti, Joe Radinovich of Crosby, Michelle Lee of Moose Lake and Kirsten Hagen Kennedy of North Branch. The Independence Party’s Ray “Skip” Sandman, of Duluth, also is running for the seat.