Republican Stewart Mills says he’s preparing to challenge DFL U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan again in 2016.
Nolan defeated Mills by less than 1.5 percentage points in 2014 in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District. It was the closest congressional contest in the state last year.
Mills said he thinks Nolan is vulnerable because of his support for the Affordable Care Act, which Mills contends has increased health care costs. He also said Nolan's support for the nuclear deal with Iran is a problem.
“The issues, some of them are the same, but there are even more issues this time that are causing me to get off the bench again and get into the game,” Mills said.
Mills said he plans to formally announce his campaign in October.
He said he will have higher name identification after running once. And because Minnesota does not have a Senate race or governor’s race on the ballot in 2016, Mills said the race will be focused on the congressional seat.
"Last time, with Al Franken winning by double digits and Rick Nolan winning by less than 1.4 percent, it's not so much that Rick Nolan won the election as so much as he rode Al Franken's coattails,” Mills said.
But 2016 is a presidential year, which has boosted voter turnout for Democrats in the northeastern Minnesota district.
The Nolan-Mills race in 2014 was one of the most closely watched contests in the country. The candidates and outside groups spent more than $12 million on the contest.
But in 2016 the open seat in the 2nd District where Rep. John Kline is not seeking re-election is expected to draw national money away from less competitive races.
Mills, who is partial owner of Mills Fleet Farm, said he intends to spend his own money on the race.
Nolan said he intends to run for re-election.
"The congressman is with constituents right now with Pope Francis, so we will reserve our comments until Mr. Mills formally announces," said Nolan spokesman Justin Perpich.