DULUTH, Minn. — Not since Michelle Obama got bangs has a hairstyle generated this much discussion. The nearly shoulder-length locks of Stewart Mills, a Republican businessman running to unseat Minnesota Democrat Rep. Rick Nolan, have produced both scorn and support among voters in the wake of two attack ads released last month that feature the GOP candidate smoothing his hair behind his ears.
“It costs a lot to get this look,” says the narrator in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s first television ad in the district saying Mr. Mills would support tax breaks for millionaires. “Lucky for Stewart Mills III, he inherited millions and a job with a six-figure salary.”
Mr. Mills, vice president of his family’s business, Mills Fleet Farm, a chain of more than 30 stores selling farming, hunting and other goods, supports overhauling the tax code to eliminate many tax breaks and create what he says would be a flatter, fairer system. A second ad shows a man with Mr. Mills’s signature hairstyle grilling lobsters on a yacht.
While Mr. Mills’s hair style has divided voters, its starring role in the ads has produced a backlash even among some of Mr. Nolan’s supporters. “Hair – really? What does that have to do with it?” asked 57-year-old Virginia, Minn., resident Ron Kutsi, a handyman and former miner, who said the ads bothered him, even though he expects to vote for Mr. Nolan.
Mr. Mills’s supporters are even more agitated. Aitkin resident and excavator Dale Lundquist, 69, noted that long hair could be seen as presidential. “What did George Washington have?” he said.
Still, Mr. Mills’s hair has not endeared him to some voters. “I don’t like that. He doesn’t look very professional,” said West Duluth resident Jerry Linder, 77, a retired driver and salesman for Tasty Bread who plans to vote for Mr. Nolan.
Democrats said their ad expresses concern over Mr. Mills’s positions, not his hair. “Stewart Mills III and national Republicans who are backing his campaign pitched his candidacy as the second coming of Brad Pitt,” said DCCC spokesman Josh Schwerin. “While they may think the race should be about looks, we find it far more important to highlight his policies that hurt the middle class while helping himself and his special interest friends.”
Congressional politics, everybody. Should we laugh or cry? (“Challenger’s Hair Style on Trial in Minnesota House Race” via WSJ)