I may have spoken too soon in saying Stewart Mills wasn’t going to take another swing at the 8th District in 2016. There are leaves rustling on both sides of the aisle.
On one hand, you have Democrat anxiety about the possibility Republicans will level the same kind of national attention and money toward the race in Minnesota in 2016 as they did in 2014.
At the Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis last week, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan was given a choice speaking position during the same general session stage that included Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz openly fretted in her introductory/closing remarks about Nolan’s seat being vulnerable. From the live-tweeting of the event:
— Brian McClung (@bmcclung) August 28, 2015
Before and after Rep. Nolan spoke today at the DNC, Wasserman Schultz made clear she's really worried about losing #mn08 next year.
— R. Stassen-Berger (@RachelSB) August 28, 2015
When I included that DWS described the seat as “quite vulnerable” in my writeup of the DNC meeting, the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee snapped the quote up. The Democrats may be fulfilling their own prophecy by making their fears so public, and inviting the GOP to take another swing at Nolan.
Then you have movements from Stewart Mills himself. Although he hasn’t yet openly called it one way or the other on a 2016 run, he has appeared or will appear at several Republican events in the 8th. Here’s a a quote from his speech at the Beltrami County Republicans dinner Aug. 27, as witnessed by my successor at the Bemidji Pioneer, Matthew Liedke:
“During the last election cycle we came so incredibly close,” Mills said. “Even though election night was bittersweet, my experience running for Congress was one that left me ultimately richer. It gave me an appreciation not only of our part of Minnesota, but also the entire nation.
“We do have a magnificent America, we do have a country we can be proud of,” Mills added. “But we need to make sure we have leadership in Washington D.C. that is going to keep America great. That is going to stand up for our value systems, not just here domestically, but also abroad.”
But wait, there’s more.
In his remarks Thursday, Mills added he has not decided on whether he will run for office again in the 2016 election.
“I’m not exactly sure what the next election cycle holds for me,” Mills said. “But we do, in whatever capacity, have to stand up for our magnificent America.”
I mean, those quotes could be just Mills generally encouraging his fellow GOPers to send Republicans to D.C. But they could be also be Mills encouraging them to send a very specific Republican to D.C.
He also plans to keynote a gathering of the Aitkin County Republicans Sept. 30.
With every new event Mills does, and the longer he refuses to outright rule out a 2016 run, the more it looks like he could be gearing up for round No. 2 with Nolan.