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Minnesota's 8th Congressional District elections, 2014

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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



Minnesota's 8th Congressional District

General Election Date
November 4, 2014

Primary Date
August 12, 2014

November 4 Election Winner:
Rick Nolan Democratic Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Rick Nolan Democratic Party
Rick Nolan.jpg

Race Ratings
Cook Political Report: Toss Up[1]

FairVote's Monopoly Politics: Toss Up[2]
Sabato's Crystal Ball: Toss Up[3]

Minnesota U.S. House Elections
District 1District 2District 3District 4District 5District 6District 7District 8

2014 U.S. Senate Elections

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

Minnesota's 8th District was home to one of the most competitive congressional races of the 2014 election cycle. Rep. Nolan defeated Mills, a long-haired political newcomer who had never before run for elected office, by less than 4,000 votes -- a mere 1.4 percent margin of victory. Leading up to the election, political pundits seemed uncertain of the election's outcome, with The Cook Political Report, FairVote's Monopoly Politics and Sabato's Crystal Ball all rating the race as a toss-up.[5][6][7] Ballotpedia named Minnesota's 8th as a U.S. House battleground district in 2014.

Two contradictory polls in the weeks leading up to the election added to the race's unpredictability. On October 1, 2014, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released an internal poll showing Nolan ahead by 11 points, leading 48-37.[8] Later in October, a KSTP/SurveyUSA poll showed Mills leading Nolan 47-39.[9]

With so much uncertainty, outside groups spent enormous amounts of money on the race. According to OpenSecrets, Minnesota's 8th District ranked second highest in outside spending out of all 2014 U.S. House races. Groups spent a total of $12,563,539 on the election, a close second to the $13,489,481 spent in California's 7th District.[10] The two largest contributors were the DCCC, which spent $4,350,664 opposing Mills, and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which spent $3,249,026 opposing Nolan.[11]

Throughout the 2014 election cycle, the candidates remained neck and neck with regard to campaign contributions. According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Nolan raised a total of $1,853,675.02, while Mills raised $1,897,641.62.

A few main issues rose to the forefront of conversation during the election. Mills emphasized his stance on gun rights, while attacking Nolan for wanting to limit magazine capacity and ban semi-automatic weapons.[12] Nolan, in turn, attacked Mills for inheriting millions of dollars. The DCCC released one ad saying that Mills "has been handed everything, inheriting millions and a six-figure salary," and telling voters, "Don't hand Stewart Mills a seat in Congress."[13]

Minnesota's 8th was historically a Democratic-leaning district, although Republican Chip Cravaack held the seat from 2011-2013. Nolan won the seat back for the Democrats in 2012, with an 8.9 percent margin of victory over Cravaack. That same year, President Barack Obama (D) won in the district by 5.5 percent.

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
June 3, 2014
August 12, 2014
November 4, 2014

Primary: Minnesota is one of 14 states that uses an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.[14][15][16]

Voter registration: To vote in the primary, voters needed to register on election day, or pre-register by July 22, 2014. For the general election, the voter registration deadline was October 14, 2014 (21 days days prior to the election).[17]

See also: Minnesota elections, 2014

Incumbent: Heading into the election the incumbent was Rick Nolan (D), who was first elected in 2012.

The 8th District covers the northeastern part of Minnesota. It includes Koochiching, Itasca, Hubbard, St. Louis, Cook, Lake, Carlton, Pine, Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Kanabec, Benton, Pine and Chisago counties.[18]


General election candidates

August 12, 2014, primary results

Democratic Party Democratic Primary

Green Party Green Primary

Republican Party Republican Primary

Failed to file

Race background

The 2012 election in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District was a close race, with challenger Rick Nolan securing election by an 8.9 percent margin of victory. The district was considered a toss-up with Fairvote indicating that as a result of redistricting, the district had gone from an even balance between Democrats and Republicans to a 2 percent edge in favor of the Democrats.[21] Rick Nolan was outspent by incumbent Chip Cravaack, who spent $2,385,666 compared to Nolan's $1,194,314.[22]

In 2014, the district was targeted by both the National Republican Congressional Committee's Patriot Program[23] and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue List."[24]

The National Republican Congressional Committee added Stewart Mills (R) to their "On the Radar" list. According to the NRCC, candidates that made the list received "...the tools they need to run successful, winning campaigns against their Democratic opponents."[25][26]

"The Brad Pitt of the Republican Party"

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."[27] 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."[27]


General election results

The 8th Congressional District of Minnesota held an election for the U.S. House of Representatives on November 4, 2014. Incumbent Rick Nolan (D) defeated challengers Stewart Mills (R) and Ray "Skip" Sandman (G) in the general election.

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


See also: Energy and the 2014 election: the ballots and beyond

Comments on ISIS

See also: ISIS insurgency in Iraq and Syria

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."[28] He added, "When we get ourselves involved in that conflict, then we become a part of the problem and the solution becomes ours."[28]

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.”[29]

Nolan's Republican challenger in the general election, Stewart 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."[30]

According to a poll published in The Washington Post, the majority of voters' views aligned 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.[31]

Campaign themes

Rick Nolan

Rick Nolan listed the following issues, among others, on his campaign website:[32]

  • Rebuilding America and the Middle Class: As a small business owner, Rick knows what it takes to create good-paying jobs. He knows that if we’re going to rebuild the middle class, we’ve got to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, and end nation-building overseas to pay down the deficit - so we can invest in infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, the environment, energy, research, health, and education.
  • Protecting Social Security & Medicare: Seniors have earned their Medicare and Social Security benefits. They’ve paid for them with every paycheck since their first day on the job. Rick will fight to protect Medicare from being turned over to the private insurance companies, which would mean higher costs and less treatment. Rick will always protect Medicare and Social Security from radical plans that would privatize or undermine them.
  • Minnesota’s Farmers: Rick Nolan is working to bring stability and security to family farmers and our rural communities. He was recently awarded the National Farmers Union Golden Triangle Award for his leadership on family farmer and rural issues. Rick has worked hard to pass crucial dairy reforms to prevent skyrocketing milk costs, extend conservation programs, and promote organic farming and Beginning Farmer and Rancher programs. Working on the Farm Bill in 2013, Rick successfully included programs to promote the benefits of wood products, to give Minnesota’s timber industry a needed boost.
  • The Environment: The environment, our air, lakes, rivers and forests, are crucial to our 8th district economy. The degradation of our air and water, along with global warming, threaten the very survival of our species here on earth. We must protect the environment in order to preserve our way of life and our tourism industry. Rick works to protect northern Minnesota’s tourism industry and our lakes, rivers, and streams from dangerous invasive species such as Asian carp, and has passed programs that help farmers turn land over for conservation. Rick will continue to fight for funding to clean up pollution in the St. Louis River and for Lake Superior coastal cleanup and management, and has been called a “champion for the environment” by the League of Conservation Voters.
  • Exports and Jobs: Rick has lived and traveled all over the world. Rick has worked to expand the Port of Duluth and its role in making Minnesota a leading export state. He has fought against “fast-tracking” the ongoing TPP trade negotiations, and will continue to stand up for fair trade and tax policies to encourage and protect good American jobs. He has voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, a job-creator that helps create and sustain nearly 200,000 jobs across the country, and helps finance nearly a dozen businesses in Minnesota’s 8th District alone. At the Minnesota World Trade Center Corporation, he worked with Governor Rudy Perpich to help create 328,000 jobs and put Minnesota on the map in the global economy.


—Rick Nolan, campaign website archive

Stewart Mills

Stewart Mills listed the following issues on his campaign website:[34]

  • 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


Rick Nolan v. Stewart Mills
Poll Rick Nolan (D) Stewart Mills (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
October 14-15, 2014
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org


Stewart Mills

Stewart Mills received the following endorsements:

Campaign contributions

Rick Nolan

Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Nolan's reports.[39]

Stewart Mills

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.[49]

Stewart Mills (2014) Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
October Quarterly[50]October 15, 2013$0$243,826.30$(9,383.77)$234,442.53
Year-End[51]January 31, 2014$234,442.53$205,263.98$(133,416.76)$306,289.75
April Quarterly[52]April 15, 2014$306,289.75$211,694.14$(162,245.00)$355,738.89
July Quarterly[53]July 15, 2014$355,738.89$476,495.08$(403,129.10)$429,104.87
Pre-Primary[54]July 31, 2014$429,104.87$81,093.00$(153,579.89)$356,617.98
October Quarterly[55]October 15, 2014$356,617.98$482,331.12$(584,008.36)$254,940.74
Pre-General[56]October 23, 2014$254,940.74$196,938.00$(253,965.13)$197,913.61
Running totals


Stewart Mills

  • Stewart Mills released his first television ad in May 2014, discussing his history with Mills Fleet Farm and how his experiences affected his views on Obamacare.
  • In a June 2014 campaign ad, Mills' wife praised him for his community involvement, including the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event to raise money for victims of domestic violence.[57]
  • 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.[58] 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 was 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."[59] 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, was a Republican and a supporter of the Koch brothers.[59]

Mills 2014 campaign ad

Mills ad featuring his wife

House Majority PAC ad attacking Mills

District history

Candidate ballot access
Ballot Access Requirements Final.jpg

Find detailed information on ballot access requirements in all 50 states and Washington D.C.


Incumbent Chip Cravaack was defeated by Democratic challenger Rick Nolan in the general election on November 6, 2012.

U.S. House, Minnesota District 8 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngRick Nolan 54.3% 191,976
     Republican Chip Cravaack Incumbent 45.4% 160,520
     NA Write-in 0.3% 1,167
Total Votes 353,663
Source: Minnesota Secretary of State, "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election" (dead link)


On November 2, 2010, Chip Cravaack (R) won election to the United States House. He defeated James L. Obestar (D), Timothy Olson (Independence) and Richard "George" Burton (Constitution) in the general election.[60]

U.S. House, Minnesota District 8 General Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngChip Cravaak 48.6% 133,490
     Democratic James L. Obestar 47% 129,091
     Independence Timothy Olson 4.3% 11,876
     Constitution Richard George 0% 132
Total Votes 274,589

See also

External links


  1. Cook Political Report, "2014 House Race Ratings for August 8, 2014," accessed August 25, 2014
  2. FairVote's Monopoly Politics, "2014 House Projections," accessed August 25, 2014
  3. Sabato's Crystal Ball, "2014 House Races," accessed August 25, 2014
  4. Politico, "House Elections Results," accessed November 11, 2014
  5. Cook Political Report, "2014 House Race Ratings for July 26, 2014," accessed July 31, 2014
  6. FairVote's Monopoly Politics, "2014 House Projections," accessed November 19, 2014
  7. Sabato's Crystal Ball, "2014 House Races," accessed July 31, 2014
  8. Star Tribune, "Dem poll on 8th CD: Nolan widening lead on Mills," accessed November 20, 2014
  9. WDIO Eyewitness News, "KSTP/SurveyUSA POLL: Upset Brewing in 8th District?," accessed November 20, 2014
  10. OpenSecrets, "2014 Outside Spending, by Race," accessed November 20, 2014
  11. OpenSecrets, "Minnesota District 08 Race, Outside Spending," accessed November 20, 2014
  12. Star Tribune, "Nolan, Mills duke it out over health care, guns, tax reform," accessed November 20, 2014
  13. Real Clear Politics, "MN-8: DCCC: 'Don't Hand Stewart Mills A Seat'," accessed November 20, 2014
  14. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  15. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  16. Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013, through January 3, 2014, researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
  17. Minnesota Secretary of State Website, "How to Register," accessed January 3, 2014
  18. Minnesota Redistricting Map, "Map," accessed August 30, 2012
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Minnesota Secretary of State, "2014 State General Election Candidate Filings," accessed June 11, 2014
  20. Minnesota Public Radio, "Stewart Mills to run for 8th Dist. seat," accessed July 17, 2013
  21. FairVote, "2011 Redistricting and 2012 Elections in Minnesota," accessed March 3, 2013
  22. Open Secrets, "2012 Race: Minnesota District 08," accessed March 3, 2013
  23. NRCC, "Patriot Program 2012," accessed March 3, 2013
  24. DCCC, "Red to Blue 2012," accessed March 3, 2013
  25. Roll Call, "House Republicans Put 36 Recruits ‘On the Radar’," accessed November 21, 2013
  26. NRCC Young Guns, "List," accessed March 20, 2014
  27. 27.0 27.1 Politico, "The Brad Pitt of the Republican Party," accessed June 27, 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 Northland News Center, "Rick Nolan urges President Obama to resist military involvement in Syria," accessed September 12, 2014
  29. Slate, "The ISIS-Bedwetter Watch Continues," accessed September 12, 2014
  30. Minnesota Public Radio News, "Strategy against Islamic State could play big in 8th District," accessed September 12, 2014
  31. The Washington Post, "Wide support for striking ISIS, but weak approval for Obama," accessed September 12, 2014
  32. Rick Nolan for Congress, "Rick Nolan: On the Issues," accessed October 1, 2014
  33. 33.0 33.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  34. Stewart Mills for Congress, "Issues," accessed October 1, 2014
  35. Politics in Minnesota, "Stewart Mills announces GOP endorsements for CD 8 bid," accessed November 23, 2013
  36. Stewart Mills for Congress, "Stewart Mills Announces the Endorsements of 16 Minnesota State Legislators," accessed May 24, 2014
  37. 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)
  38. Brainerd Dispatch, "Stewart Mills endorsed for Congress by 8th District GOP," accessed May 24, 2014
  39. Federal Election Commission, "Nolan 2014 Summary reports," accessed July 18, 2013
  40. FEC, "April Quarterly," accessed November 20, 2014
  41. FEC, "July Quarterly," accessed November 20, 2014
  42. FEC, "October Quarterly," accessed November 20, 2014
  43. FEC, "Year-End Quarterly," accessed November 19, 2014
  44. FEC, "April Quarterly," accessed May 16, 2014
  45. FEC, "July Quarterly," accessed November 19, 2014
  46. FEC, "Pre-Primary," accessed November 19, 2014
  47. FEC, "October Quarterly," accessed November 19, 2014
  48. FEC, "Pre-General," accessed November 19, 2014
  49. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills Summary Report," accessed April 23, 2014
  50. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills October Quarterly," accessed March 19, 2014
  51. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills Year-End," accessed March 19, 2014
  52. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills April Quarterly," accessed April 23, 2014
  53. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills July Quarterly," accessed November 20, 2014
  54. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills Pre-Primary," accessed November 20, 2014
  55. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills October Quarterly," accessed November 20, 2014
  56. Federal Election Commission, "Stewart Mills Pre-General," accessed November 20, 2014
  57. YouTube, "In Her Shoes," accessed June 30, 2014
  58. YouTube, "MN-08: Stewart Mills - 'Personally Offensive.'," accessed July 31, 2014
  59. 59.0 59.1 National Journal, "Democratic PAC Sees Koch Influence Behind Scuttled TV Ads," accessed July 31, 2014
  60. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013