Stewart Mills

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Stewart Mills
Stewart Mills.jpg
Former candidate for
U.S. House, Minnesota, District 8
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sNorthwood University
ProfessionVice President of Mills Fleet Farm
Campaign website
Stewart Mills III was a 2014 Republican candidate seeking election to the U.S. House to represent the 8th Congressional District of Minnesota.[1] Mills ran uncontested for the Republican nomination in the primary on August 12, 2014.[2] He was defeated by incumbent Rick Nolan in the general election on November 4, 2014.[3]


Mills is the grandson of Mills Fleet Farm founder Stewart Mills Sr. Mills Fleet Farm is a retail chain located in the Midwest. Mills has worked for his family business in various capacities since he was 14. He is currently vice president of the business. Mills has started various other projects, including an indoor shooting range and a television series.[4][5][6] He has been a board member of the Minnesota Fraternal Order of Police Foundation and is the creator of the Louis Hostager Award, given by the Brainerd Family YMCA.[7]


  • B.A., Business Administration, Northwood University


Political positions

Mills responds to Rick Nolan's comment regarding the dangers of assault weapons.[8]

Gun rights

Mills is a strong advocate for gun rights, and is well known for a YouTube video from January 2013 in which he spoke out against Rep. Rick Nolan's position on gun control. Nolan, the current representative from Mills' district, wanted to crack down on assault weapons in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Mills responded with a video in which he compared the damage done by a shotgun to the damage done by a Huldra AR-15, saying that a shotgun was actually more destructive, and that limiting Second Amendment rights was not the proper solution to prevent school shootings.[9]

Health care

Mills said that he opposed the Affordable Care Act and would replace it with a free-market system.[10]

Same-sex marriage

Mills has not taken a position on same-sex marriage because "the state has already decided the issue."[11]

Comments on ISIS

See also: ISIS insurgency in Iraq and Syria

During the 2014 congressional elections, U.S. military involvement in the Middle East became an important topic of debate among congressional candidates. Unlike many U.S. congressmen from both parties, Rep. Rick Nolan (D) warned against taking military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Nolan urged President Barack Obama not to make a unilateral decision to mobilize the military without the consent of Congress. On August 29, 2014, Nolan stated, "American blood and treasury should not be made without the full consideration by all 535 members of the Congress of the United States."[12] He added, "When we get ourselves involved in that conflict, then we become a part of the problem and the solution becomes ours."[12]

Shortly after making these comments, Nolan issued a statement regarding ISIS. Nolan wrote, "I encourage them to employ the same intelligence resources – and the same selective, highly effective means they used to bring down Osama Bin Laden. Special operations of this kind do not involve U.S. troops on the ground, the killing of innocent people, or the re-involvement of the United States in another terribly destructive, expensive, open-ended conflict in that region.”[13]

Mills disagreed with Nolan, stating, "Like it or not we have to play some role here. And for Congressman Nolan to take those positions, I think, leaves America in an even weaker position than we have been in the past. We can't lead from behind. We have to lead."[14]

According to a poll published in The Washington Post, the majority of voters' views align closer with Mills than Nolan on the issue of taking action in the Middle East. About 91 percent of voters believed ISIS to be a serious threat, and 71 percent supported the U.S. government ordering air strikes against the Sunni insurgents in Iraq.[15]

Campaign themes


Mills listed the following issues on his campaign website:[16]

  • Grow the economy from Main Street Up, not Wall Street Down: The Eighth District is a Main Street economy and job growth here comes from the ground up. That means we need tax reform that’s geared toward small business growth. Stewart doesn’t believe that Washington creates jobs- entrepreneurs and business owners create jobs.
  • Natural Resources: Stewart believes that one way to increase employment here in Minnesota’s Eighth District is to have federal policies which will allow us to fully capitalize on our mineral and timber resources. It’s critical that Washington stop blocking our ability to extract natural resources. That’s why Stewart supports the development of the Polymet Project.
  • Respect for Our Constitutional Rights: As a hunter and a competitive shooter, Stewart is staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, but he also believes that the entire Constitution must be protected and upheld in Washington.
  • Healthcare Reform: Stewart believes that Obamacare has failed in achieving its stated goal- it set out to insure the uninsured, but it has resulted in “uninsuring” the previously insured. With his background in administering Fleet Farm’s self managed health plans, Stewart knows how to implement market based healthcare reforms that will increase the supply of medical services, reduce the demand through prevention and actually make the healthcare delivery more efficient.
  • Cut Wasteful Spending and Rein in the National Debt: Our nation is more than $17 trillion in debt and politicians in Washington keep kicking the can down the road. We are quickly approaching the point where the annual debt servicing payments will grow to unsustainable levels. Our debt is endangering our children’s future and threatening our ability to leave this nation in better shape than we found it.


—Stewart Mills, campaign website archive

Media portrayal

Mills' long hair caused a variety of responses from both the media and voters. Whereas some saw his hair as making him look youthful and attractive, others thought that it made him look immature and unprofessional. Regardless, it won him acclaim as the "Brad Pitt of the Republican Party."[18] Mills was not concerned by the criticism, and embraced the differences between him and other candidates. In one interview, he compared himself with the typical candidate, stating, "I don’t look the part. I don’t shave every day, I have long hair, I don’t necessarily want to wear a suit unless I have to. I don’t feel comfortable with cookie-cutter molds of what is considered a traditional candidate." While this image could have helped him in his bid against incumbent Rick Nolan, Mills also ran the risk of voters focusing more on his appearance than the political message of his campaign. His solution was to focus his energy on a serious campaign, while letting others "promote the novelty of it."[18]



See also: Minnesota's 8th Congressional District elections, 2014

The 8th Congressional District of Minnesota held an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 4, 2014. Challengers Stewart Mills (R) and Ray "Skip" Sandman (G) were defeated by incumbent Rick Nolan (D) in the general election. None of the candidates faced challengers in the primary election on August 12, 2014.[2]

Minnesota's 8th was considered a battleground district in 2014. Nolan won his seat in 2012 with an 8.9 percent margin of victory, and President Barack Obama (D) won the district in 2012 by only 5.5 percent. Nolan was first elected in 2012, and representatives serving their first term are often more vulnerable than long-time incumbents. In addition, Minnesota's 8th district was redrawn in 2011, which could have significantly altered the ratio of Democratic and Republican voters. In 2013, Politico reported that Nolan was vulnerable in this competitive race.[19]

U.S. House, Minnesota District 8 General Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngRick Nolan Incumbent 48.5% 129,090
     Republican Stewart Mills 47.1% 125,358
     Green Skip Sandman 4.3% 11,450
     N/A Write-in 0.1% 185
Total Votes 266,083
Source: Minnesota Secretary of State

Race background

The National Republican Congressional Committee added Mills to their "On the Radar" list in November 2013. According to the NRCC, candidates that made this list were set to receive "...the tools they need to run successful, winning campaigns against their Democratic opponents."[20][21]

Criticism of Nolan

Mills criticized his Democratic opponent, Rep. Rick Nolan, for voting against funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and against the Keystone Pipeline.[10]


Mills received the following endorsements:


  • Mills released his first television ad in May 2014, discussing his history with Mills Fleet Farm and how his experience has affected his views on Obamacare.
  • In a June 2014 campaign ad, Mills' wife praises him for his community involvement, including the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event to raise money for victims of domestic violence.[26]
  • In July 2014, the House Majority PAC released an ad attacking Mills for arguing against raising the minimum wage and wanting tax breaks for the wealthy.[27] This ad was taken off of two television stations after complaints that it was misleading due to a spliced video clip of Mills. In the video, Mills is quoted as saying, "Folks saying that 'the wealthy, the wealthy are not paying their fair share, the 2 percent, the 1 percent, whatever percent you want, is personally offensive," when in reality he had said, "To be singled out as a deadbeat is personally offensive."[28] However, the PAC and their supporters shot back by accusing the stations of taking the ad down for political reasons. Stanley Hubbard, the owner of both stations, is a Republican and a supporter of the Koch brothers.[28]

Mills 2014 campaign ad

Mills ad featuring his wife

House Majority PAC ad attacking Mills

Campaign donors


Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Mills' reports.[29]

Stewart Mills (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
October Quarterly[30]October 15, 2013$0$243,826.30$(9,383.77)$234,442.53
Year-End[31]January 31, 2014$234,442.53$205,263.98$(133,416.76)$306,289.75
April Quarterly[32]April 15, 2014$306,289.75$211,694.14$(162,245.00)$355,738.89
July Quarterly[33]July 15, 2014$355,738.89$476,495.08$(403,129.10)$429,104.87
Pre-Primary[34]July 31, 2014$429,104.87$81,093.00$(153,579.89)$356,617.98
October Quarterly[35]October 15, 2014$356,617.98$482,331.12$(584,008.36)$254,940.74
Pre-General[36]October 23, 2014$254,940.74$196,938.00$(253,965.13)$197,913.61
Running totals


Mills lives near Brainerd, Minnesota, with his wife and five children.[4]

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See also

External links

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  1. Minnesota Public Radio, "Stewart Mills to run for 8th Dist. seat," accessed July 17, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 Associated Press, "Minnesota - 2014 Primary Results," accessed August 12, 2014
  3. Politico, "House Elections Results," accessed November 11, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 Stewart Mills for Congress, "About Stewart Mills," accessed March 17, 2014
  5. CBS Minnesota, "Grandson Of Fleet Farm Founder Eyes Congress Bid," June 26, 2013
  6. Roll Call, "Brad Pitt and Minnesota’s 8th District," June 10, 2013
  7. Star Tribune, "Mills Fleet Farm exec hopes to oust U.S. Rep. Nolan, D-Minn," June 26, 2013
  8. YouTube, "Duck Hunting Shotgun Proven To Be more Dangerous Than A Huldra AR-15," accessed March 18, 2014
  9. CBS Minnesota, "YouTube Video: Hunting Rifles More Dangerous Than Semi-Automatics," accessed March 18, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 Pioneer Press, "Stewart Mills wins GOP endorsement for 8th District race against Rick Nolan," April 13, 2014
  11. Star Tribune, "Mills Fleet Farm executive to vie for Congress," June 5, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1 Northland News Center, "Rick Nolan urges President Obama to resist military involvement in Syria," accessed September 12, 2014
  13. Slate, "The ISIS-Bedwetter Watch Continues," accessed September 12, 2014
  14. Minnesota Public Radio News, "Strategy against Islamic State could play big in 8th District," accessed September 12, 2014
  15. The Washington Post, "Wide support for striking ISIS, but weak approval for Obama," accessed September 12, 2014
  16. Stewart Mills for Congress, "Issues," accessed October 1, 2014
  17. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Politico, "The Brad Pitt of the Republican Party," accessed June 27, 2014
  19. Politico, "Ads hit vulnerable Dems on Obamacare," accessed December 26, 2013
  20. Roll Call, "House Republicans Put 36 Recruits ‘On the Radar’," accessed November 21, 2013
  21. NRCC Young Guns, "List," accessed March 20, 2014
  22. Politics in Minnesota, "Stewart Mills announces GOP endorsements for CD 8 bid," accessed November 23, 2013
  23. Stewart Mills for Congress, "Stewart Mills Announces the Endorsements of 16 Minnesota State Legislators," accessed May 24, 2014
  24. Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, "Press Release: MN Gun Owners PAC endorses Stewart Mills for Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District," accessed May 24, 2014 (dead link)
  25. Brainerd Dispatch, "Stewart Mills endorsed for Congress by 8th District GOP," accessed May 24, 2014
  26. YouTube, "In Her Shoes," accessed June 30, 2014
  27. YouTube, "MN-08: Stewart Mills - 'Personally Offensive.'," accessed July 31, 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 National Journal, "Democratic PAC Sees Koch Influence Behind Scuttled TV Ads," accessed July 31, 2014
  29. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills Summary Report," accessed April 23, 2014
  30. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills October Quarterly," accessed March 19, 2014
  31. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills Year-End," accessed March 19, 2014
  32. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills April Quarterly," accessed April 23, 2014
  33. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills July Quarterly," accessed November 20, 2014
  34. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills Pre-Primary," accessed November 20, 2014
  35. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills October Quarterly," accessed November 20, 2014
  36. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills Pre-General," accessed November 20, 2014