The haircut heard ’round the Eighth

Stewart Mills sported this new look on his Facebook page Wednesday. Known for his long locks, atypical of most Republican candidates, Mills ran a close race against Rep. Rick Nolan in 2014. While he hasn't announced if he'll challenge Nolan again, his hair seems to be leaning that way. (PHOTO: Stewart Mills FB page)

Stewart Mills sported this new look on his Facebook page Wednesday. Known for his long locks, atypical of most Republican candidates, Mills ran a close race against Rep. Rick Nolan in 2014. While he hasn’t announced if he’ll challenge Nolan again, his hair seems to be leaning that way. (PHOTO: Stewart Mills FB page)

Stewart Mills, the 2014 GOP nominee in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District, hasn’t announced officially whether he plans to run for the office again in 2016. But his famous hair seems to be leaning that way.

Mills, scion of the well-known Fleet Farm family, lost to Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan by a little over one percentage point last year in this swing district covering most of Northern and Central Minnesota. Nolan recently declared he would seek re-election in 2016.

Today on social media, Mills posted the picture (at right) showing that he’d trimmed off his long hair for a much more clean-cut look. That long hair played a central role in several negative TV ads portraying Mills as an out-of-touch rich kid. A Republican operative told me last year that Mills was strongly encouraged to cut the hair, but refused.

Until now.

According to Mills, the haircut was necessary because of a Fourth of July barbecue incident that singed off some of his golden locks (and eyelashes, apparently). And perhaps that’s true. But this accident is certainly well timed with the ebb and flow of the election cycle. Will an announcement of a political rematch be soon to follow?

This next election will be cast amid a presidential race, which tends to swell turnout and carry party labels along with the prevailing winds. But it would seem that we might get to answer the question of just how many votes did Mills lose because of his hair? Or perhaps finding — like Samson, or better yet the red goliath Gossamer from Looney Tunes cartoons — that “he was all hair.”

Comments

  1. Gerald S says:

    Mills made an interesting comment when he was interviewed regarding 2016 by the Duluth New-Tribune. He stated that he believed that the presence of Al Franken at the top of the DFL ticket was important in his losing.

    I doubt that he really believes that Franken is or was an electoral juggernaut that crushed the GOP ticket. In fact, as recently as a few months before the election, the GOP had Franken picked as a vulnerable candidate.

    Nonetheless, I think that it was the Franken race that did Mills in, but not because of Al. Rather, Mike McFadden’s problems with keeping his foot out of his mouth not only doomed his own race, but damaged other GOP candidates, especially with his remarks about using Chinese steel to build the oil pipelines. McFadden put Mills in the awkward spot of either having to aggressively disagree with his top of the ticket, or to face problems with voters in the 8th. I spoke with many voters who were disgusted with both Frnaken and Nolan on several issues, but who had closed ranks quickly after the McFadden comments. DFL GOTV spent a lot of effort making sure that voters were aware of McFadden’s statement and of Mills’ refusal to distance himself from it.

    In 2016, Mills or whoever the GOP candidate is will face a presidential election year, which can be counted on to sharply increase DFL voter turnout in the 8th district. Unless there is a total Democrat meltdown along the lines of the McGovern or the Reagan elections, things will likely be much harder for the GOP in the 8th this time around.

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