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Mills shifts target, focusing on jobs not guns

WASHINGTON — Stewart Mills waded into politics during the gun control debate, but he’s focusing on jobs early in his 8th District campaign. 

WASHINGTON — New 8th District Republican candidate Stewart Mills first waded into politics over the winter when he released an anti-gun control video directed at Minnesota’s senators and the man he hopes to challenge next fall, Rep. Rick Nolan.

But what’s he been talking about since launching his campaign last month? MPR’s Mike Zdechlik says it’s been all about jobs so far:

In the early days of his campaign, he has been talking about jobs.

“The federal government is putting up roadblocks and handicapping the private businesses of the 8th District,” he said during an interview in Cambridge.

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Pointing to Nolan’s push for campaign finance reform, Mills said the congressman spends too much time on issues that do nothing to promote job growth.

“We can debate campaign funding until we’re blue in the face,” Mills said, “but it’s not going to create jobs for people here in the 8th District.”

Nolan, who won by almost 10 percentage points in 2012, said he is focused on his work in Congress, including generating jobs, not his re-election.

Although new to campaigning, Mills weighed in on gun control very publicly earlier this year as the issue gripped Washington after the Sandy Hook shootings.

Mills put together a web video calling for armed guards in all U.S. schools, saying, “Gun-free zones are killing our kids.”

He argued that semiautomatic assault weapons are safer than traditional duck hunting shotguns, responding to comments that Nolan made about hunters not needing assault weapons.

Mills said gun rights will be part of his campaign but his focus will be on job creation.

Republicans, both nationally and locally, have been very bullish on Mills so far, and he’s made an impression with national pundits as well. MSNBC named him one of the top early recruits of the 2014 cycle, and the Rothenberg Political Report moved its 8th District rating from “Safe” to “Lean” Democrat. 

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.