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Ratings Change in Two Minnesota House Districts

Mills narrowly lost to Nolan in 2014. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wealthy GOP businessman Stewart Mills officially announced his challenge to Democratic-Farmer-Labor Rep. Rick Nolan, setting up a rematch of their close race last cycle. In 2014, Nolan won 49 percent to 47 percent in an expensive contest.  

Nolan should benefit from presidential turnout in a district that President Barack Obama carried with 52 percent in 2012 and 53 percent in 2008. But Mills should be taken seriously if he spends more of his personal money, runs a better campaign, and gets more support from national Republicans — or some combination of all three factors.  

Last cycle, there seemed to be confusion between the Mills campaign and national GOP strategists about who would defend Mills in the early fall when Democrats attacked the Republican nominee relentlessly, particularly for his wealth.  

Nolan starts the race with the advantage, but calling the race Safe would be misleading. We’re changing the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating from Safe Democrat to Democrat Favored .  

In the 7th District, Republicans love to target DFL Rep. Collin Peterson. He represents a sprawling western Minnesota district that Mitt Romney carried by 10 points in 2012 and Arizona Sen. John McCain won by 4 points in 2008 in the last two presidential races.  

Republicans thought they had a quality challenger to Peterson last cycle, but the congressman easily defeated state Rep. Torrey Westrom, 54 percent to 46 percent, even though it was a terrible year for Democrats.  

The GOP lean of the district should make Peterson vulnerable, but he has proven to be a formidable incumbent and Republicans have yet to unearth a top-tier challenger, or any challenger at all. The seat will be a top takeover opportunity once Peterson retires, but for now, we’re changing the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating from Democrat Favored to Safe for Democrats.  

With Nolan and Peterson swapping positions on the list of competitive races, the list of vulnerable Democratic House seats is still very short. There are just six vulnerable Democratic seats on our list compared to 25 seats currently held by Republicans. But the list is likely to evolve once a new map is enacted in Florida .  

Related Stewart Mills Launches Rematch Against Rick Nolan New Florida Map Likely to Benefit Democrats Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.