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US Rep. Nolan, GOP challenger Mills square off in Duluth during 1st debate of campaign


DULUTH, Minnesota — Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and GOP challenger Stewart Mills went on the offensive Tuesday as they met in Duluth for their first debate in the tight race for northeastern Minnesota's 8th District seat, squaring off on taxes, health care and gun rights.

Nolan emphasized his support for Medicare and Social Security and said he'd fight for the middle class, not the rich. He portrayed Mills, a businessman whose family owns Mills Fleet Farm stores, as out of touch with working people, Minnesota Public Radio reported ( ).

"He has said he wants more tax cuts for super millionaires and billionaires, and yet at the same time he opposes an increase in the minimum wage," Nolan said of Mills.

Mills called for a "flatter, fairer" tax that he said would be simple and fair and benefit the middle class. He faulted Nolan for backing the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act and for his support for a single-payer universal health care system. Mills also touted his endorsement from the National Rifle Association and noted that the NRA gave Nolan an "F'' rating.

"Representative Nolan talked about common sense solutions," Mills said. "I hope that single-payer government-run health care is not a common-sense solution to what we have to do with our health care economy."

Green Party candidate Skip Sandman stood out for his opposition to the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine.

The Nolan-Mills race is one of the most expensive in the country. The 8th District was long a Democratic stronghold but redistricting has added more conservative territory to it, turning it into a swing district.

Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News,

Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News,

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