Mills opts out of 2018 House race

by Tom Coombe -

Stewart Mills won’t make a third run for Congress - at least not in 2018.
The two-time Republican candidate, who lost consecutive nailbiters to incumbent Democrat Rick Nolan, said Wednesday that he’ll sit out next year’s race.
Mills, however, didn’t go quietly into the night. He bowed out by way of a social media message that took his own party to task.
While thanking supporters, Mills was harshly critical of the National Republican Campaign Committee.
He charged that they’re recruiting “sacrificial lambs” for the 2018 election cycle and that the NRCC shifted spending away from his bruising 2016 race with Nolan, which was decided by less than a percentage point.
“The NRCC succeeded in doing something the Democrats were unable to do, leave us flat footed and unable to mount a commensurate campaign,” said Mills.
Mills, who hails from the Brainerd area and was an executive in the Mills Fleet Farm chain, said he’s open to a future run for Congress “if there is a meaningful change of leadership and priorities at the NRCC.”
Mills’ decision seems to clear a path for county commissioner Pete Stauber of Hermantown, who earlier this year announced his own candidacy for the Republican nomination.
Nolan, who unseated Chip Cravaack in 2012 and has since won consecutive close races with Mills, is expected to seek re-election but faces a challenge within his own party.
Leah Phifer, a former counterterrorism analyst with Ely family ties, has announced she’ll seek the DFL party endorsement and is running to Nolan’s left in the Eighth District, which spans from northeastern Minnesota, west to Brainerd and south to the edge of the Twin Cities suburb. Ely Echo 11/4/2017