Democrats target Mills’ wealth — will it work?

The DCCC’s latest ad targeting 8th District congressional candidate Stewart Mills is perhaps the least subtle in a line of attacks against his personal wealth.

WASHINGTON — The subtlety to Democratic attacks against GOP congressional candidate Stewart Mills is all but gone — if it was ever there in the first place.

When a Democratic group released a new ad featuring a Mills lookalike boarding a yacht and grilling up lobster tails under an imagined personal crest, the wealth he has gained from his family’s retail company took the starring role in Democrats’ efforts to define Mills ahead of the most hotly contested federal race in Minnesota this cycle.

Mills’ company, the outdoor-goods chain Fleet Farm, does not lend itself to attacks like, say, those used against Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, in 2012. But Democrats have introduced a wealth-based argument against Mills nonetheless: that he has inherited his fortune and was given a cushy job at his family’s company, and therefore favors the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has led the charge on this front, pushing out two ads that follow a similar script. The ads, on which the DCCC has spent more than $1 million according to the Sunlight Foundation, accuse Mills of supporting tax breaks for millionaires while opposing them for most Minnesotans. The images underneath the message (the yacht and the lobster, the boat shoes) are obvious allusions to his wealth. And Democrats consistently include a generational suffix in his name to further tie him to his inheritance — he’s “Stewart Mills III.”

“As we head into the final weeks of the campaign, it’s clear that the more voters get to learn about millionaire Stewart Mills III, the more it becomes clear that he would side with the wealthy and the special interests over Minnesota families,” DCCC spokesman Brandon Lorenz said.

Ads highlight push for flatter taxes

Mills said he’s “pretty entertained” that outside groups have hired actors to portray him in their ads “because they don’t want to talk about the issues or [Rep.] Rick Nolan’s record.” His campaign has pushed back against the wealth argument as an attack on the Fleet Farm business itself, which was established by Mills’ grandfather, father and uncle in 1955. Mills’ stake in the company is worth at least $41 million, and he made a salary of $568,000 last year.

There is some context needed to the substance of the DCCC’s attack. Asked about the tax charges in the ad, Mills said he wants to help small- and medium-sized businesses navigate the tax code by flattening the rates and simplifying the code itself. Critics note a flatter tax could mean a lower rate for high-income earners.

“We need simplification of our tax code to make sure our small- and medium-sized businesses that make up over 80 percent of all employers in the 8th District are not put at a competitive disadvantage,” he said.

The ad’s claim that he opposes tax cuts for most Minnesotans is based on his opposition to the 2009 stimulus act, which included a host of tax cuts. But Mills said he was against the stimulus for its increased spending, not its tax provisions.

“For the benefit of the middle class, we need to flatten out the tax code and simplify it,” Mills said.

Other groups join in

When Rick Nolan formally launched his campaign in June, he hit Mills for being a “one-percenter who is there to represent the one percent,” but he’s largely steered clear of personally hitting Mills’ wealth since then. Eighth District DFL chairman Don Bye said area Democratic activists are shying away from that type of rhetoric as well, focusing on propping up Nolan while outside groups play politics with Mills’ wealth.

Besides the DCCC, the liberal House Majority PAC has targeted Mills and his wealth on the air. In this case, it’s an ad using a video of Mills telling a crowd last year that he finds it “personally offensive” when Democrats propose raising taxes using the argument that wealthy people don’t pay their fair share to society.

Mills’ campaign and House Majority PAC tussled a bit over the editing used in the ad, but the speech itself could well live on in this fall’s campaigns. Over the last month, for instance, the state DFL has organized a “Personally Offensive” tour of the district to hit Mills on economic issues.

“He’s trying to portray himself as a regular guy,” DFL chairman Ken Martin said, “but the truth is that he’s an out-of-touch millionaire running for Congress to do what we’ve said, which is cut taxes for the wealthy. Generally, we feel good about pushing this meme for the next 41 days.”

An effective strategy?

The 8th District isn’t the only place where a candidate’s wealth is coming into play — over the summer, Roll Call found at least three other races where personal finances had became a campaign issue. And it’s not just Democrats making the attack: Right-leaning groups like the DCCC’s Republican counterpart, the NRCC, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have used the riches of Democrat Sean Eldridge, a venture capitalist and the husband of a Facebook co-founder, against him in his upstate New York House race.

But University of Minnesota political psychology professor Howard Lavine said wealth-based attacks aren’t necessarily effective. The American electorate generally isn’t anti-wealth, he said, and Mills may navigate the attacks better than most given Fleet Farm’s blue-collar reputation. Mills’ wealth isn’t linked to “some broader narrative” like the one used against Romney, whom Democrats accused of making his millions through corporate raiding.

“I don’t think that people have anything particularly against candidates who are either self-made or wealthy, or have inherited wealth,” he said.

Democrats argue their tactics are more about Mills the would-be congressman than Mills the millionaire businessman — that, as Martin said, his role in the family business has put him out of touch with the struggles of the middle class.

It’s hard to uncouple the businessman and politician, though, and Mills said he’s not worried about having his candidacy tied to any Fleet Farm-based wealth.

“There’s nothing elitist about our business, and people know the true background of the Mills family and Fleet Farm,” he said. “I believe these ads will fall on their faces.”

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Comments (87)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/26/2014 - 09:49 am.

    Imagine what would happen if he sold a Renoir to finance his campaign…

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/26/2014 - 03:15 pm.

      Or . . .

      He could pull a Walker and sell his soul (or what’s left of it) to the Koch brothers.

      Incidentally, would you even know what a Renoir is without resorting to Wikipedia?

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/26/2014 - 05:51 pm.

        RB, for the discussion before us I got my information regarding Renoir (and Lautrec) from MPR.

        To be fair to Dayton, the Masters in question weren’t something Dayton chose for himself. He hocked that part of his inheritance from his mother’s estate. There is no mention of boat shoes however, so he’s got that going for him, which is good.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/26/2014 - 06:17 pm.

        No, you’re right RB. I have no idea what a “Renoir” is, ignorant hillbilly that I am. But I do know Mark Dayton sold one of them there things and also something called a “Toulouse-Lautrec” to finance his campaigns.

        Sounds kind of snooty…I’m guessing Mills ain’t got any of those.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 09/28/2014 - 11:18 am.

          I understand that Mr. Mills

          has an outstanding collection of beer bongs …

          I guess those aren’t snooty?

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/28/2014 - 12:03 pm.

          Le Renoir

          I’m sure Mr. Mills could afford a Renoir, if not a Lautrec. He may think it pointless to sell his tchotchkies when the Koch brothers are more than happy to pump money into his campaign. All he has to do is promise his undying fealty (which should be no problem).

          And to think that I was going to edit out that last crack as a regretted personal snub.

        • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/30/2014 - 07:02 am.

          Sold at a loss

          just to set the record straight –
          he inherited a painting or two, which he sold at a loss.

  2. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 09/26/2014 - 09:51 am.


    Why is the wealth of Republicans treated with such suspicion and scrutiny and that of the Democrats given a pass?

    • Submitted by David LaPorte on 09/26/2014 - 12:50 pm.

      Because they serve the 1%

      The Republicans’ agenda serves the interests of the wealthy much more than the middle class and the poor. When a candidate is a member of that special interest group, (s)he has both political and personal motives to advance that agenda.

      The Democratic agenda primarily serves the middle class and the poor. Dayton, for example, wanted to tax the wealthy, a group of which he is a member. The Democratic agenda actually conflicts with their personal interests, making it seem more like altruism.

    • Submitted by Daniel Olson on 09/26/2014 - 01:59 pm.

      That’s an easy one

      If a rich person wants to use their wealth to buy political influence to further increase their wealth – they’d become a Republican.

      The Republican platform makes this clear – Tax cuts for the rich, undoing environmental laws, cutting regulation of businesses, crushing unions, increasing the role of money in elections — these are all policies intended to tilt the playing field more to the wealthy’s advantage.

      Rich Democrats, on the other hand, are much more likely to support policies that help the middle class. You can disagree with their policies, but it should be obvious they’re motivated to work towards a better world, and not just engaged in petty self-dealing.

      The flip side to this of course — it’s much more troubling when Democrats abuse their power for upward wealth distribution, like Dayton and the stadium, or use their power for self-enrichment, like the Community Action scandal.

    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/30/2014 - 06:59 am.

      Is it a lack of moral commitment?

      IF one gets a “pass” – and the other doesn’t…
      (allowing that premise of yours is even true)

      Maybe you’re not looking at the correct factors?

  3. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 09/26/2014 - 09:58 am.

    Mills really wanted to be a rock star.?…

    …even in Mills own campaign ads he comes over as a bobble head; a mascot/parody of the republican party?

    What does he believe in simplistically I’m sure, but who knows, really?

    Comb your hair back a few more times Stewart? Maybe it will stimulate a little more from the heart/ from the brain speech to let someone know who you represent not just a parody profile; a comic book politician?

    Tell us what you think, what you know of the bigger than Mills man who now merely strides like a celeb from some entertainment stage?

    I do wonder if Mills is being used by his handlers…if so we as voters are being ‘abused”…

  4. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 09/26/2014 - 10:02 am.

    DFL – boring and typical

    Are these boring and typical attack ads the best the DFL has to offer?

    What happened to “hope and change” and taxing everybody?

  5. Submitted by jody rooney on 09/26/2014 - 10:14 am.

    Since Mills has said little but tax cuts and flat

    taxes someone should start asking about tax subsidies and see what he has to say.

    His wealth isn’t offensive his arrogance and ignorance of economics (stimulus package) and the purpose of government is.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 09/26/2014 - 12:13 pm.

      Tax expenditures don’t count as spending in the GOP…


      You know, the only thing that counts as spending is what I pay out of my left pocket.

      Please ignore what I pay out of my right pocket – that’s DIFFERENT !!

  6. Submitted by Mike Downing on 09/26/2014 - 10:50 am.

    Hypocrisy defined…

    These ads demonstrate the utter hypocrisy of the DFL using outside money from wealthy Democrats to fund their negative ads for Nolan & Dayton. These are the same Democrats who attack Citizens United, the Koch brothers, etc.

    Let’s count the number of negative ads against Jeff Johnson and Stuart Mills. It is is a confirmation of Democrat hypocrisy.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/26/2014 - 01:54 pm.

      Inattention defined

      The “negative ads” are not being sponsored by the DFL, but (at least in the case of the ads against Mills) by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Two groups, in case you had trouble keeping track.

      The attacks on Citizens United are not for the fact that they are “outside” money, but that they are corporate money. The Koch brothers are attacked because of their insidious policies.

      Incidentally, can you explain why it is an “attack” ad to characterize a candidate’s positions in a negative way? Has anyone ever bothered to tell you that?

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/26/2014 - 06:24 pm.

        “The attacks on Citizens United are not for the fact that they are “outside” money, but that they are corporate money.”

        Right. As opposed to union money, or squeaky clean Soros money.

        Sometimes I wonder if you’re all just playing out a bet to see how far you can go before everyone catches on.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/28/2014 - 12:07 pm.

          Everyone catches on

          Debating the policies supported by the union or Soros contributions is fair game. It may be a little complex, however.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/29/2014 - 11:43 am.

          Squeaky clean

          You might want to look into the criminal (no exaggeration) and regulatory history of Koch Industries. No large company is ever completely, as you put it, squeaky clean, but I doubt that either Fleet Farm or the late Dayton-Hudson Companies could boast a rap sheet like theirs.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/29/2014 - 12:58 pm.

            We could look to the Koch Industries regulatory history, or we could look into the criminal (in the classic meaning of the word) history of George Soros; convicted felon (insider trading).

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/29/2014 - 01:36 pm.

              Okay, let’s

              In 1980, Koch Industries pleaded guilty to 5 felonies in connection with federal oil leases. In 1999, Koch Industries was found by a federal jury to have submitted more than 24,000 false claims to the federal government, and settled the case by agreeing to pay $25 million. Since 2000, Koch Industries has paid over $31 million in criminal fines for environmental crimes (that’s “criminal” in the classic sense of the word–remediation costs are extra). In 2000, they paid a $30 million civil penalty (the largest on record) to resolve claims relating to around 300 spills from their oil pipelines.

              How many people do you suppose died, or were sickened, as a result of these crimes?

              George Soros was convicted in 2005 for violating French laws regarding insider trading, and was fined around $1 million.

              How many people do you suppose died, or were sickened, as a result of this crime?

              George Soros personally made about $1 million in campaign donations in 2012. All contributions were disclosed, and are matters of public record. The Kochs are believed to have made around $400 million in contributions through various organizations they control, but the exact number is unclear, as the Koch fight tooth-and-nail against disclosure.

              Do you know what “equivalent” or “comparable” mean?

              • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/29/2014 - 03:44 pm.

                George Soros heads up a list of front groups long enough to be a thread unto themselves.


                And as anyone that doesn’t get their information from “Rolling Stone” can tell you, he not only fights to disavow his involvement, but in the cases of Media Matters and The Center For American Progress, has told bold faced lies about it.

                In fact, Soros’ little lefty empire is so well documented, you’re guilty of either making an argument out of willful ignorance or willfully contributing to Soros’ smokescreen.

                And as to the fine for his felony criminal conviction, well, you’re off juuust a smidge. It’s $2.8 BILLION


                Also, there is the matter of Soros’ appalling history in Hungary during WWII.

                I’m happy to stack the Koch history against Soros’ any day RB.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/29/2014 - 04:54 pm.

                  Good for you

                  You are wrong, Mr. Swift. Mr. Soros was fined 2.2 million Euros, or about $2.9 million (with an M 1 Euro has never equaled $1000). That fine was reduced a year after the Liberal Media story you quote so gleefully to around 940,000 Euros.

                  Beyond that, so what? He donates a lot of money, but it’s still a fraction of what the Kochs spread around (he is not as wealthy as they are, so it stands to reason). Compared to the crimes of the Kochs . . . well, there is no comparison.

                  You feel free to defend the Kochs. They are poisoning not just our polity, but the physical environment. Lap it up.

                  PS I have heard about what he did in Hungary during the war. I don’t/can’t defend it. What would you have done as a 14 year old in his shoes, and no one believes you would have done anything noble and self-sacrificing.

                  I will take Rolling Stone as a source over whatever voices are shrieking in your head today.

                  • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/29/2014 - 05:37 pm.

                    Opinions as to what I might or might not have done in similar circumstances do not mitigate what he did in fact do, and nothing could excuse the fact that he is on record as saying he feels not a whit of remorse about it. In fact he has said the experience shaped him; indeed.

                    You may not defend it, but you’ve made it clear that you excuse it. There may be a difference there, but I can’t see it.

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/30/2014 - 09:38 am.

                      Good point

                      I was a bit sloppy in my writing.

                      No, I don’t excuse what Mr. Soros did in Hungary. However, I think it is valid to ask if any of us would have done anything different, had we been in his shoes. It does not mitigate his crime, but it does make it more difficult to judge.

                    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/30/2014 - 01:35 pm.

                      I don’t know anyone could say how they would behave. But I do know I would feel shame and regret for something like all my life. It takes a real cold hearted individual to say, as he did, “I have no regrets. If I hadn’t done it, someone else would”.

                      Soros said that his behavior shaped him, and given the fact that he went on to make billions betting on the failure of economies and currencies I’d say that he’s telling the truth.

                      I find him real easy to judge.

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/26/2014 - 04:52 pm.

      Negative ads by “conservatives” isn’t hypocrisy?

      I am not quite sure why Democrats are expected to play it pure when campaigning, but “conservatives” are free to attack, lie, disparage and distort to their hearts content. Are all of the attack ads against Nolan noble? Are the attack ads against Dayton sacred? The attack ads against Franken inspired?

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/26/2014 - 06:48 pm.

        I don’t know that anyone is expecting the Democrats to play it pure. Speaking for myself I’d be happy if they just didn’t play it stupid. With Mark Dayton heading the DFL ticket, these “1%” ads are an insult to anyone unfortunate enough to sit through one.

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/26/2014 - 05:02 pm.

      Two words: Lee Atwater

      Two words for those “conservatives” offended by Democratic campaign practices – Lee Atwater.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/28/2014 - 12:05 pm.


        That remark is not fair. You are leaving out contemporary luminaries like Karl Rove. You also are unjustly neglecting the shrieking contributions of the right-wing media to the permanent campaign.

        • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/30/2014 - 07:05 am.

          Red Rover, Red Rover, We’re Sending Karl on over

          Did Atwater have regrets – at the end?

          Karl Rove, so horribly wrong in the recent past & nearly a pariah as a result
          has re-emerged on the talk show circuit recently.

          I guess that was the best they could do?

  7. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/26/2014 - 11:50 am.

    Mr. Mills Represents the MOST Dangerous Generation of Any Family

    The generation which did NOT build the enterprise which made the family wealthy but has only had his wealth and status handed to him.

    Whereas his parent’s perspective incorporates strong connections with and the need to work hard and work closely with employees at all levels in order to gain the support and “buy in” necessary build a successful enterprise from the ground up,…

    Mr. Mills’ only real connection has been with his father’s money.

    It is highly likely that he now views the employees of the business,…

    many of whom his parents knew personally,…

    not as good, honest, hard working people, but as leeches whose desire for decent wages and benefits threatens to steal money directly out of his own pocket.

    Furthermore, as a member of management of a large business concern, he is simply unable to realize that, although government must be carefully managed to the extent that bookkeeping needs to be scrupulously documented and honestly audited,…

    government is NOT a business.

    Government is a non profit service organization whose purpose is to provide services to the general population in order to maintain all the infrastructures that were necessary for Mr. Mills’ parents to build their business enterprise in the first place.

    Along the same lines, Mr. Mills, of course, likely sees taxation of himself and his business as stealing money out of his own pocket in the same way his employees want to do.

    In the end Mr. Mills may do OK as a business leader, but that remains to be seen and won’t be known until his parents are completely out of the picture,…

    because it is that SECOND generation in family-owned enterprises that so often kills off the business their parents built because they have been given too much, too easily without comprehending how many people have worked to provide them with the luxuries they take completely for granted,…

    and, not properly valuing those who actually do the work which creates their wealth, they tend to mistreat and shortchange those people while rewarding themselves far too handsomely, whether times are good or bad, at levels the business cannot sustain,…

    leading to a disgruntled, disheartened, and resentful workforce and a business with insufficient resources to retool when necessary, to innovate as needed, and to weather economic downturns.

    What’s already clear, however, is that Mr. Mills would make a very inadequate member of the US House of Representatives, since he would not be able to avoid pursuing and supporting the same “tinkle down” policies that have so damaged and diminished the middle class of America since the days of Ronnie Raygun;…

    acting to preserve and protect from tax liability the income of people at his own (or higher) income levels while FURTHER ERODING the ability of the vast majority of his constituents,…

    to procure jobs which pay a living wage with benefits (including defined-benefit retirement benefits),…

    to be part of unionized shops which place them on an equal footing with management as they bargain for pay, benefits, and working conditions,…

    to gain an adequate free elementary and secondary education for their offspring,…

    to drive on roads which are in reasonable repair and cleared of snow in a timely manner, etc..

    In the end, electing Mr. Mills would only get his constituents more of what we have so recently had:

    people such as Mr. Mills getting richer,…

    his employes and all those of a lower economic class getting poorer,…

    with even less possibility that those who are NOT wealthy can do anything to try to turn their lives or our national economy back around so that they have a decent chance of gaining a better life by working hard and/or attaining higher levels of education and training.

    • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 09/26/2014 - 12:35 pm.

      you have…

      just described our current governor.

      • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/26/2014 - 05:19 pm.

        In What Alternate Universe

        Has Mark Dayton done any of the things that Mr. Mills, as a died-in-the-wool Republican, seems so inclined to do?

        Both men may have grown up wealthy, but Gov. Dayton has taken a completely opposite path than Mr. Mills is taking.

        (But by all means, my “conservative” friends, make sure you continue to find simplistic ways to push away, without consideration, any and all facts that, if allowed to enter your awareness, might challenge the truth of what you “truly believe.”)

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/26/2014 - 06:45 pm.

          Opposite paths.

          I see what you mean, Greg. Dayton just lived on his inherited trust fund. Mills is actually working his family’s business.

          • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/27/2014 - 11:54 am.

            In contrast to this kid who inherited great wealth and a family-business job, Mark Dayton has actually spent his life in public service. A lot of years. From teaching to running for and winning various offices at state and national levels. He has a track record of hard work in the public’s interest.

            The GOP has nominated a guy who thinks, because everything he wants has been given to him, he should start a political career at the top. Buying it, of course.

            There is no comparison.

  8. Submitted by James Hamilton on 09/26/2014 - 11:57 am.

    It’s a good thing there aren’t any rich Democrats in office,

    other than Mark Dayton (est. net worth “less than $20 million” in 2000) and Al Franken (est. current net worth $8 million). Rick Nolan’s net worth was estimated at $1.1 million in 2012.

    Go after a candidate on the issues for a change, will ya’?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/26/2014 - 02:55 pm.

      Oh, Snap!

      And here the global liberal conspiracy was hoping you would never find out about that! What are we to do?!

      All that is let is to point out that the issue is not the wealth, but the crafting of policy choices that amplify that wealth to the detriment of the rest of society! It’s a good thing there still are voters who can appreciate that distinction.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/26/2014 - 06:51 pm.

        ” the issue is not the wealth”

        Somehow, the lobster, campaign and boats didn’t get that across to us hicks, RB. Maybe you should alert HQ.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/26/2014 - 11:04 pm.

          Wedges in Society

          I do find it interesting that Liberals pride themselves on being tolerant and accepting of different people, yet they seem happy that the ads are trying to drive wedges by making people envious and jealous of the Mills family. A local group that seems to have made their money by providing good products for good prices. Definitely one of my favorite places to shop.

          And of course there was that goofy hair ad where they replay the same clip over and over. I guess this is likely good news, it likely means they have nothing of substance to go after him for.

          • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/27/2014 - 09:38 am.

            The old canard

            No John, I don’t envy his wealth, I don’t need it. I’m not jealous of him or his family, from their history, it sounds kind of sad. I dislike Mills because he is arrogant, smarmy, and has a vision for this country that is designed to make life worse for people like me and those I care about. Why is that so hard for conservatives to accept? It is possible to think a person is a jerk, independent of their financial status.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/27/2014 - 03:34 pm.


              Then all the ads mentioning his salary, family wealth, etc should be stopped?

              Personally I don’t know if he is arrogant, smarmy, etc. I have never talked with the man.

              And the correct statement would be . “I believe his vison will make life worse for …”

              I am always amazed that people think Republicans are actively trying to “make life worse” for their constituents. Many of whom are just like you. The reality is that they believe in a different way of making life better for us.

              • Submitted by jason myron on 09/27/2014 - 04:00 pm.


                you happen to be included in their determination of who “us” represents. As someone who thinks that the unemployed should be sweeping the streets for their meager benefits, I’m not surprised you’re unable to make that distinction.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/27/2014 - 10:47 pm.


                  I said those on welfare could work for their benefits in a position appropriate to their skill level. In China many low skilled people work to keep their community clean. Do you think poorly of janitors, maids, and other personnel that are employed in those types of positions?

                  What do you think people on welfare should be doing? They are being given money from the pockets of other citizens, should there be no expectation of them?

                  As for people on standard unemployment, that is an insurance benefit they are entitled to. However they should be using that time to become better trained or employed.

                  • Submitted by David LaPorte on 09/28/2014 - 09:33 am.

                    China? Really?

                    John: Do you really think that China is the model to which we should aspire?

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/28/2014 - 03:26 pm.

                      In some ways

                      For all their problems, the Chinese keep the boulevards near the roads much cleaner and well manicured than we do in the Twin Cities metro. I’ll be in Shanghai again in 2 weeks, I can take more photos if you wish.

                      I was down at about 35W and Lake after returning from a previous trip to China, and it was disappointing to see so much trash in the right of ways. I am not used to that since I live in Suburbia.

                      If you don’t like China, how about Germany?

                      So same question I asked Jason, should they do anything for the money they are being given?

                  • Submitted by jason myron on 09/28/2014 - 07:08 pm.

                    Don’t you dare

                    attempt to turn this back to me. I’m an ardent defender of those folks day in and day out. You’re the one who continues to justify his lack of empathy for them by questioning their work ethic.

              • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/28/2014 - 12:11 am.


                I don’t believe they have any care for their liberal constituents at all. Then again I don’t think they care about the conservative ones without money to fund campaigns either. You forget, I’m a cynic. Go ahead and believe your “just like me” malarkey all you like, conservatives don’t care about me and mine, and never will. Don’t act so surprised when I express my distaste for them as a result. You’re all welcome to change your views and behavior if you’d like to win my support or assistance, but of course that won’t be happening in my lifetime, so here we are.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/28/2014 - 03:18 pm.

                  Mixed Economy

                  Oh don’t be so dramatic.

                  Conservatives believe in a mixed economy weighted towards Capitalism/ Private Property rights.
                  Liberals believe in a mixed economy weighted towards Socialism/Community Property rights.

                  Both sides are sure they have the answer that will help us middle classers and the lower income folks. Though I know it is hard for you to believe the intent of the Conservatives is to create a stronger America for all of us. I have no problem believing the Liberals have positive intent, I just think too many negative unintended consequences come with their plan. (ie enabling and encouraging free loading)

                  And instead addressing the concern when it is raised, Liberals start saying that I think “everyone” is lazy… Which of course is incorrect. However denying that lazy people and thieves exist is incorrect also.

                  • Submitted by jason myron on 09/29/2014 - 07:13 am.


                    Mr. “I’m being taxed to death” is complaining about drama? The person who wants to emulate a communist country in their response to poor people is complaining about drama? The person who has no issue with wasteful military spending, but is convinced that the true problem in America are those ungrateful folks on food stamps (encouraged freeloaders, apparently), is complaining about drama? ” the intent of the Conservatives is to create a stronger America for all of us.” What utter tripe…

                    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/29/2014 - 07:59 am.

                      “What utter tripe…”

                      Yeah, that’s what we hear from a solid third of the country these days.

                      How there are still people out here who believe persistence and struggle are worthy of the effort in the presence of such a large body of victims and their enablers is beyond me.

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/29/2014 - 03:06 pm.

                      Spare me, Swift…

                      you have no moral high ground. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of your history of spewing profane diatribes towards anyone that doesn’t share your twisted political ideology is laughing after reading that. Everyone else can take a gander at your twitter feed, take a long, hot cleansing shower afterwards and most will come to the same conclusion. Besides, in your world, I thought Christians and Gadsden flag flyin’ “patriots” are the true victims? Tyranny…it’s everywhere.

                    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/29/2014 - 03:34 pm.

                      Lol! I take the judgment of my morality coming from someone like yourself to be highly amusing Myron, thanks!

                    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/29/2014 - 04:38 pm.

                      I have to ‘second’ the moral judgement levied by Mr. Myron. Your twitter account and other documented historical web-presence (not to mention the failed run for school board in St. Paul as the endorsed GOP candidate) does not do you well, Mr. Swift.


                      Your twitter feed indicates your predilection for scatalogical references. This twitter feed, and the comment sections you enjoy describing as ‘brutal’ on the Stribs’ website, is why we should all be very happy to have such excellent comment moderation at MinnPost.

                    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/29/2014 - 05:26 pm.

                      Ahh, my lurking twitter trolls, in formation. I had no idea. Not sure were you get the scat reference from, and, how does running for school board call my morals into question? Everything I ran to improve has worsened the point that even some leftists are calling “foul”.

                      Does my history of correcting homework papers for SPPS teachers, serving on parent committees and tutoring kids in reading make me even more dastardly?

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/29/2014 - 12:52 pm.


                      I don’t think I have ever complained about being taxed to death, my household is for the most part a single income type with my wealth in IRA’s, therefore most of the “tax the rich” activities don’t impact me.

                      I don’t think there is anything wrong with having people doing “keep America/Neighborhoods beautiful” tasks for their welfare. Why are you so against this? Is it beneath them in your opinion?

                      As for military waste, I am not sure that helping save innocent civilians over seas from brutal dictators is “waste”. However I agree that we don’t need as many over seas bases as we have. Should we shutdown the S Korean bases after ~60 years?

                      I think some people need help to get on their feet, and some people are unfortunately dependent / addicted to the system. It is not the only problem facing America, however it shouldn’t be ignored either as you lobby to give more Americans more free stuff. I think we need a balanced approach.

                    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/29/2014 - 01:22 pm.

                      Except of course

                      The whole indentured servitude thing. Though the logic of replacing paid employees with welfare slaves, thereby creating potentially MORE welfare slaves is innovative. You should get thee to a think tank stat!

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/29/2014 - 05:32 pm.

                      Please explain

                      People are not forced to be on welfare, they choose to sign up and they can choose to get off. So I am a bit confused by the “indentured servitude” comment.

                      Now instead of name calling and venting, please explain the rationale that you have that people on welfare should not be expected to help out in our communities?

                      The communitee is providing them housing, food, heat, etc. Is there some reason they should not be doing something in return?

                    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/29/2014 - 06:22 pm.


                      False choices aren’t a choice. Sure people could chose to decline welfare and starve in the street, but no one of sound mind will make that decision. As such if the decision is manual labor or no benefits its really not a choice, its coercion, work or starve. I like how you neglected the second portion of the point, if its not intended as punative, why would we simply not hire said welfare recipients to the government payroll and then allow them to do the work. After all, isn’t the goal to avoid your “safety hammock” as you’re so fond of describing it. Your plan simply locks folks into a vicious cycle in which they still recieve less than poverty wages, have no time to look for, or train for, anything other than the menial tasks to which you would put them, and most likely will require them to shell out for childcare costs during the time which you would require them to labor (as of course we can’t take anymore hard earned taxpayer funds for that). So given that your plan does nothing to aid its participants, either monetarily, or with regards to furthering their career or educational future, yet does provide putative satisfaction and cheap labor for folks like you, what else is it but indentured servitude. All thats missing is the debtor prisons for folks who won’t comply, but I’m sure they’ve crossed your mind too.

                    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/29/2014 - 07:36 pm.

                      “..its coercion, work or starve.”

                      Man, that sounds like a coddled teen’s response to a parent who finally tells them to get a job.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/29/2014 - 10:30 pm.

                      Menial Tasks

                      Now come on guys, first Jason and now you. What do you have against people that clean for a living?

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/30/2014 - 11:27 am.

                      Nice try…

                      You’re the one that demonizes them for their “poor choices” in life, not us. Attempting to force people to sweep streets for their benefits is not the same thing no matter how much you try and twist it.

                    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/30/2014 - 12:30 pm.

                      Mr. Appelen’s suggestions reminds me of Newt Gingrich’s idea to have black students from low-income families work as janitors in their own high schools.

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/30/2014 - 03:02 pm.


                      Jack Kingston thinking that forcing low income students to sweep the cafeteria for their free grilled cheese will teach them that there’s “no free lunch” even though he and his staff have taken the taxpayers for hundreds of thousands in free lunches during his tenure as a Congress critter.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 10/01/2014 - 09:27 am.


                      Now that is a strong word and incorrect. I greatly respect hard working people in all jobs. I used to do that type of work and know how important it is.

                      The people I disapprove of are free loaders and fraudsters, those who do not want to work for their livelihood. Those that are okay living off the efforts of others.

                      And yes, I am aware that you think these people do not exist. Thankfully most of the other readers know they do.

                    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/29/2014 - 06:30 pm.


                      Do you apply the same standard to your “charitable” giving? I don’t feel my value judgements have a place in deciding whether or not our society should take care of its downtrodden. Its what civilized societies ought to do. Since charity is, and will always be inadequate at meeting that challenge I expect to fund a portion of that obligation through government largesse. How individuals choose to take advantage, or not, of that opportunity is not my concern. Citizenship has priveleges and burdens, one does not come without the other.

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 09/29/2014 - 02:55 pm.

                      Get some new material.

                      The “free stuff” meme has been played to death, mainly by people who spend a lot of their free time yelling back at their radio or TV.

                    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 09/29/2014 - 03:30 pm.

                      In all fairness…

                      I spend a lot of time yelling back at my radio… most notably, when the McFadden interview aired on MPR last week… though, I think the most incredulous I was during that interview (and the loudest I yelled) was not over something overtly political, but that Mr. McFadden seemed to think steel was an ore that is mined, and not an alloy that is produced.

                      The “free stuff” meme IS overused… and just silly and not 1-sided, as the 1% and their corporations get all SORTS of “free stuff” from the US Government, which adds up to a lot more than the pittance we deign to give to the working poor.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/29/2014 - 06:19 pm.

                      Rich Bad Poor Good

                      I agree that there are lazy immoral free loaders and crooks at both ends of the system and everywhere in between. Can you say the same?

                      Please tell me what checks the government actually writes to the upper 1%? (ie free stuff that is not available to all of us)

                      We know the lowest 10% get food stamps, medicare, housing, heating, EITC, etc.

                      Before you chastise me again for being heartless. I do think we should help the 9.7% who truly need help and are working to improve their lives. It is the 0.3% or 1,000,000 people that are truly dependent that need to be dealt with in some other way. Thoughts?

                      We have the IRS, the SEC, etc working to stop the free stuff on the top end. What do you want to do to stop the free stuff at the bottom end?

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/27/2014 - 10:29 am.

            Nothing of substance to go after Mills for, and nothing of substance to brag Nolan up for. That is exactly what I take from these ridiculous, desperate ads.

            Have you seen Nolan’s “pro-second amendment” photo op?


            Tell me that doesn’t remind you of this:


    • Submitted by E Gamauf on 09/30/2014 - 06:57 am.

      Are you expecting only conservatives to be wealthy?

      Success & Wealth are not the issue, by themselves.

      Its really convenient when someone is trying to force sides by wealth,
      in order to get all the rich guys over on their side of the line by implying they are traitors to their class.

      On Class Wars – I wonder how many people who invoke this type of division & reasoning really ARE wealthy

      — and how many just dream it.

  9. Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 09/26/2014 - 01:22 pm.


    the right has never talked about Dayton’s wealth, not once in the decades he has been in public service – maybe they should start, it would be new, and counter the evil attacks by the left on Mill’s inherited money.

    • Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 09/26/2014 - 04:59 pm.

      That is …

      one of the reasons I am disappointed with the state Republican Party. They are more concerned with gay marriage.

      Dayton’s wealth should be an easy target (pardon the pun) and they are as blind to it as the DFL’ers.

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/26/2014 - 05:06 pm.

      And the right has never used an actor to impersonate a candidate

      Although the person driving that Lexus in an anti-Franken ad does sort of look like Sen. Franken, but I am sure that was just a coincidence.

  10. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 09/26/2014 - 04:46 pm.

    Flattening tax rates hurts the middle class

    “For the benefit of the middle class, we need to flatten out the tax code and simplify it,” Mills said. First – how does one flatten the “tax code” – which is simply a set of statutes. The problem – flattening tax rates hurts the middle class – it increases, not decreases, the share of the total tax bill that they become responsible for. Flattening tax rates ONLY benefits the wealthy – because it lowers their rate. Mills can talk all he wants about flattening the “tax code” – but if he advocates flattening tax rates he is advocating harm to the middle class.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/26/2014 - 09:36 pm.

      Not Necessarily

      It depends on where the flat rate starts. If the first $50,000 is tax free, many people may see a reduction…

      • Submitted by jody rooney on 09/27/2014 - 05:05 pm.

        You better run those numbers again

        John if you think that is going to reduce the other tax brackets.

        Here’s a modest proposal just have the top 10% of the gross income earners be responsible for getting the bottom 10 percent out of poverty in say 5 years or they pay a 25% gross income surcharge?

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/27/2014 - 10:36 pm.

          Horse and Water

          I am sorry but there is nothing anyone can do to force people out of poverty. It is something they have to be willing to do for themselves. Our society has been offering free K-12 education for a very long time and still a large number of students fail to learn. Many of them go so far as to make fun of the students that strive to succeed.

          As for brackets… If the tax bracket is 0% up to $50,000, people with incomes would pay no income taxes. People with $100,000 incomes would only pay on $50,000. And on. What am I missing here?

  11. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/26/2014 - 05:15 pm.

    In What Alternate Universe

    Has Mark Dayton done ANY of the things Mr. Mills, as a died-in-the-wool Republican seems so inclined to do?

  12. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/26/2014 - 06:11 pm.

    You folks do realize that outside the soothing cocoon of the lefty echo chamber everyone is pointing and laughing about this, don’t you?

    Do you think anyone at the DCCC has any clue who the Governor of Minnesota is?

  13. Submitted by jody rooney on 09/27/2014 - 05:16 pm.

    Mr. Swift (and you are certainly not living up to your name sake

    Were you really named after the book character from the 1910’s?

    The republican ads are equally out of touch with Minnesota, one implies property taxes are related to changes in the income tax rate, but neglects to mention it was the Republican’s who cut aid to local government which did result in communities that weren’t using their full levying capability increasing their rate.

    And I believe it is the same ad they are talking about “fix our roads”. Clearly not people who had been driving in Minnesota this year. Of course I suspect many of the people in suburban areas know who is responsible for the road in front of their house.

    The Democratic ads are ridiculous and an equal embarrassment. What happened to vision and how to get there.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 09/28/2014 - 10:06 am.

      Jody, Dayton & the DFL increased LGA to historically high levels this year, but many smaller and all of the largest cities (Democrat controlled, of course) still increased their taxes this year. And still, Mayor Chris Coleman appearing at the legislature next year to cry poverty is just as sure as tomorrow’s sunrise.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/03/2014 - 08:23 am.

    Actually I think these candidates might be betraying a secret

    Not that democrats all come from the poor side of the tracks, but here in MN we know that the republicans are not in good financial shape. With the exception of Johnson you see these multi-millionaire candidates like Mill’s and McFadden… one thing they both bring to the table is a lot of their own money for the campaign… makes you wonder: can the republicans NOT afford to run candidates that don’t have their own money?

    When these guys loose the financial prospects for republicans will get even worse. The Mills-Nolan race is up for grabs and I think its safe to assume that Emmer is a shoe-in. But McFadden and Johnson will go down in flames. It will interesting to see what kind of financial shape the republican party is in after this elections.

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