EAST GULL LAKE — Stewart Mills III on Thursday called for the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a free market alternative. The GOP candidate for the 8th District congressional seat addressed a tea party rally organized by the Twin Cities-based Tea Party Alliance at Cragun’s Resort and Hotel on Gull Lake.
He told a group of about 45 people Minnesota had a viable high risk pool for insurance before ACA was enacted. He said that, in his experience as a vice president and health plan administrator of Mills Fleet Farm, cases of people with preexisting conditions were “very few” in number.
He said he wanted a health care system that would allow the purchase of health insurance across state lines and included price transparency. He also called for tort reform.
“Consumerism works,” Mills said. “Socialism doesn’t”
Mills said he has talked with libertarians, constitutionalists, tea party members, business interests and others. He said as well as Republicans and conservatives, he hopes to attract John F. Kennedy Democrats who feel their party has left them.
“We have a big tent,” he said of his campaign.
He said he hasn’t hesitated to bring his campaign to the traditionally Democratic Iron Range because they want their guns protected and they want to earn a paycheck rather than a welfare check.
“The Iron Range is fertile ground for Republicans to go spread their message,” he said. “In their hearts, they’re conservative.”
The Minnesota Tea Party Alliance will conduct a tea party rally from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Legacy Club House at Cragun’s Conference and Golf Resort.
As evidence of his big tent philosophy, Mills said a Students for Stewart organization has been established.
“No, I’m not going to cut my hair,” he said. “I want the young person’s vote.”
Key pillars of his campaign, he said, include reigniting the economy from the ground up, respecting the Constitution and repealing and replacing Obamacare with a free market alternative.
The candidate criticized President Obama’s Cash for Clunkers program as a failure. He said money basically passed through to the consumer yet auto dealers felt they had to participate in order to remain competitive. He said the program robbed auto dealers of future sales and wasn’t a benefit.
“Cash for Clunkers was a lemon and I had a front row seat,” Mills said.
Gun control activism, he said, was another issue that prompted him to run for his first elective office. The Sandy Hook shootings of young children broke his heart, he said, but was used as a pretext to push the gun control agenda with factually inaccurate information.
“Taking away my liberties or your liberties is not the answer,” he said.
The Nisswa resident called for a return to fiscal sanity and warned of a return to more normal, higher interest rates on the nation’s $17 trillion debt.
Organizer Jake Duesenberg said the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidates were not invited to Thursday’s event because he got tired of asking them and being ignored.
The only other Brainerd area candidate who spoke was Dale Lueck of Aitkin, who recently announced his second bid for the House 10B seat. He said he lost to Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, by 323 votes.
“I’m not easily deterred,” he said. “This time we’re going to win by a landslide.”
Lueck described himself as a social Christian conservative who believed absolutely in the right to life and marriage that was made up of one man and one woman.
The rally will also featured speeches from Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa; and Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker.
Rally organizers said they were unable to locate a conservative candidate for the House 10A seat, currently held by Rep. John Ward, DFL-Brainerd.
“We need a candidate for 10A,” Duesenberg said.
Duesenberg and Jack Rogers, president of the Tea Party Alliance, outlined the principles of their organization as belief in free markets; fiscal responsibility; and constitutionally limited government.