, a political campaign manager from Carrboro who runs the blog Politics North Carolina
was never planning to run for office himself, but on the last day of filing for the 2016 election cycle he threw his name in the ring.
Mills will challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Richard Hudson
, a two-term congressman, for his seat to represent North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District. The district comprises a large swathe of the southern Piedmont, running from Concord north of Charlotte to Lumberton in the southeastern part of the state.
We caught up with Mills—who’s spending the holidays with his family before getting down to the grind of running a congressional campaign, which will include blogging every step of the way— this week.
How would you describe the demographics of North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District?
If Democrats can win in any of these gerrymandered districts, it’s probably that one. I didn’t look at raw numbers but I looked at likely voters. Democrats have a 5 percent advantage over Republicans in the district, 43 percent to 38 percent, with around 20, 21 percent unaffiliated. What’s more encouraging from a Democrat’s standpoint is it is a 26 percent minority district, which by all rights should make it a competitive district. That’s less than the state as a whole that’s unaffiliated, but I think those people are up for grabs.
In your blog post announcing your candidacy, you say you’re an unconventional candidate. Why?
I’m not wealthy. I’m going to have to work for a living, all throughout this process. My job is running campaigns, so I come to it with a little bit of a different perspective than a lot of first-time candidates, and yet I don’t have the money to underwrite my campaign. I’m conventional in that I will have sit down and figure out how to raise money and put together an organization. But I’m unconventional because I have a long history of running congressional campaigns in a lot of different states.
I got the impression from reading your blog post that you regard your chances of winning the seat as being a long shot. Is that accurate?
Any time you’re running against an incumbent you’re at a disadvantage. My opponent is starting the race with $500 thousand in his bank account. He will be backed by a lot of special interests. He’s already received tens of thousands in special interest money
and he can get a lot more. But I’m pretty happy in an underdog capacity.
Why are you happy being the underdog?
I didn’t plan on running for this seat. It was not something I had long thought about. But I can’t stand to see these [congressional district] seats go unchallenged. The way I see North Carolina, we are in a huge ideological and political battle for this state and I’m not going to let a seat go unchallenged if I can help it. I grew up in that district. I was born and raised there.