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Congressional candidates Mills, Nolan grapple for funds

GOP candidate for the 8th U.S. Congressional District Stewart Mills III raised almost double what incumbent Democrat Rick Nolan gained this past quarter. Mills did it largely by using half a million dollars from his own wallet.

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Dem - Rick Nolan (L), Rep - Stewart Mills III (R)

GOP candidate for the 8th U.S. Congressional District Stewart Mills III raised almost double what incumbent Democrat Rick Nolan gained this past quarter. Mills did it largely by using half a million dollars from his own wallet.

Federal Election Commission filings for the second quarter show the Mills campaign's principal committee, Friends of Stewart Mills, took in $794,001 compared to the Nolan for Congress Volunteer Committee's $428,178. However, Mills loaned his own campaign $500,000, the first time he has loaned the committee money so far this election cycle. Mills also had less than a fourth of Nolan's cash on hand going into the third quarter, and had spent about five times as much.

A release from the Mills campaign touted the quarter's fundraising effort as a success and gave the total money raised as $279,000. That amount was given by donors consisting of 70 percent Minnesotans, the release said.

However, the $279,000 amount omits both the $500,000 loan, and the $14,198 Mills contributed directly to the campaign.

Mills cast the loan as him fulfilling his personal responsibility to the campaign.

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"I'm not going to ask my donors to do anything for me I'm not willing to do for myself," he said. "We are running a fully funded campaign, and we are going to do what it takes, on all levels, to make sure we're successful on election day."

He also said he would forgive the loan, that is, not expect his campaign to pay it back to him.

Mills' disbursements totaled $822,803 for the quarter compared to Nolan's $160,686. Mills characterized the high level of spending as a sign that "we're fully committed to the campaign."

The Republican and Democratic national conventions as well as the Olympics threatened to drown out his campaign message, Mills said, so adequately getting their message out in the weeks before those events took resources.

"That means spending dollars early," he said.

Both candidates sought to paint their opponent as the one with the financial advantage. Nolan said he wouldn't loan his own campaign money in response to Mills' loan.

"I don't have that kind of money," Nolan said. "I'm a successful business guy, I built my own business and that business is still operational today, but it's nowhere near the magnitude of Mills Fleet Farm."

Nolan raised the spectre of Mills giving more large contributions to his campaign as the season continues.

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"As a result of his recent inheritance, he's got at least a couple hundred million dollars in cash in his checking account, so he certainly has the capacity to write some pretty big checks if he's so inclined."

Although Mills said it was undetermined whether he would make similar loans in the future, he said "if I have to make up the difference myself ... I will do so."

Mills pointed out his opponent's incumbent status, particularly Nolan's selection by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for its "Frontline" program, which he described as "their endangered incumbent program, in which they load them up with more Washington, D.C., PAC dollars," he said.

"So, of course, Congressman Nolan is going to be able to raise more than me," he said. "That is the power of incumbency."

However, Nolan also pointed out a place where he had a financial advantage over Mills: cash on hand. Nolan had $968,615 compared to Mills' $203,267.

Nolan recited the political aphorism that candidates don't necessarily have more money than their opponent-they just have to have "enough."

"We're going to have enough," he said.

 

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ZACH KAYSER may be reached at 218-855-5860 or Zach.Kayser@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZWKayser .

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