Mills Fleet Farm executive Stewart Mills III of Nisswa said Tuesday he could not confirm or deny his interest in challenging Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District.
His comments in a phone interview with the Brainerd Dispatch Tuesday, however, indicated he may be considering a run, as a recent story on the Real Capitol View website noted.
“They’re barking up the right tree,” Mills told the Dispatch.
The website cited an unnamed source as saying that Mills was exploring the possibility of running against Nolan, who lives in rural Crosby. The website report stated an official announcement could come in July but said Mills was talking to 8th District officials and activists and was working on finding a replacement to cover his responsibilities at the Mills corporate office in Brainerd.
Mills declined to comment on the supposed timing of any announcement or on the possibility he was making plans at work in case he makes a bid.
“I’m not ready quite yet to go on the record but in the near future I will have a more formal announcement,” he said.
Mills sent out a video letter to Nolan, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., that was a response to Nolan’s assertion that he (Nolan) didn’t need an assault weapon to shoot a duck. The video included firearms demonstrations and according to Real Capitol View received more than 270,000 hits.
The website went on to list other potential Republican candidates who could consider a run for the congressional seat: state Sen. John Carlson, Bemidji, St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg and former Duluth City Council member Todd Fedora. The website said none of the possible candidates had publicly expressed an interest in the seat.
Nolan was elected to the traditionally Democratic seat when he defeated Rep. Chip Cravaack, R-Minn. in 2012. Before Cravaack’s election Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn. had held the seat for 18 terms. Oberstar succeeded his former boss, Rep. John Blatnik, D-Minn., who was elected in 1946. Nolan had previously served in Congress from 1975 to 1981.
Steve Johnson, communications director for Nolan, said Congressman Nolan welcomes anyone to the race who is willing to run for public office, but his sole focus will continue to be on governing and doing the job he was elected to do — not campaigning.
“There’s more than enough full-time campaigning going on these days,” Johnson said. “Instead, Congressman Nolan is working hard in Washington to help generate jobs and get Congress working again in a common sense, bipartisan manner that gets things done for the American people.”