An unconventional candidate

by | Dec 22, 2015 | 2016 Elections, Editor's Blog, NC Politics, US House | 53 comments

Well, yesterday was put up or shut up day. After urging people to run for office to contest every Republican-held seat, I filed to run for Congress in North Carolina’s 8th District. I didn’t plan on running, but I also wasn’t going to watch a Republican incumbent get a pass, especially not in that district. Now, every Republican House member from North Carolina has an opponent.

Gerrymandering in North Carolina has put a damper on democracy. People don’t want to run if they don’t think they can win. But elections are unpredictable and there are a lot of reasons to run besides winning. I’m running for all of them.

First, voters deserve a choice. As my fellow Congressional candidate Josh Brannon said, “The gerrymandering had caused not only voter disenfranchisement, but candidate disenfranchisement as well.” We’re not letting that stand.

Second, elections are usually shaped by forces bigger than either candidate. Four of the last five elections have been waves. 2006 and 2008 were Democratic waves. 2010 and 2014 were GOP waves. In those years, people who had no business getting elected were swept into office. The districts that missed the wave were the ones that left their opponents unchallenged. In 2006 and 2008, the independent voters who make up about 20% of the likely voters in NC-08 broke for Democrats. If Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is the GOP nominee, they might do so again.

Third, some of our elected officials do foolish things. Sometimes they take money they shouldn’t. Other times they wake up in the wrong bed. Other times they make ugly statements that expose an ugly nature. If that happens in the 8th district, I’ll be there to take advantage of it.

Next, it’s not always just about winning. Republican incumbents who have no opponents raise money and give it their colleagues who do. I want to make my opponent spend his money against me.

Finally, Republicans in North Carolina claim they’re carrying out the will of the people. They’re not. They’re carrying out the will of the minority. In 2012, 51% of the votes cast for Congress went to Democrats but Republicans won a 9-4 majority. That’s not democracy. Without a Democratic opponent, the GOP would collect uncontested votes that would skew the real view of North Carolinians.

I won’t run a conventional campaign because I’m not a conventional candidate. I have to make a living and I make mine running campaigns. This year is my busy year and I may be my most difficult client.

I’ll take the fight to the GOP and I invite you to join me. Before that, though, I’m going to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with my family. Then, over the next few weeks, I’ll tell you more about me and my relationship to the Eighth Congressional District. We’ll call it blogging the campaign.

In the meantime, all you GOP opposition researchers, there’s plenty of fodder on PoliticsNC. After two and a half years of writing and almost 800 blog posts, I don’t have a lot to hide. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of ammunition. Have at it and enjoy reading.

Happy Holidays!


  1. Jim Sutherland iii

    It is time for Richard Hudson to come on home. I am Sunbeam Sutherland from Laurinburg
    and will help as much as I can. My father was Jim Sutherland and one of Pat Taylor’s campaign managers when he ran for Governor. I married Dr. John Land’s youngest sister.

  2. Gareoh12

    Thanks for running and I hope you enjoy exploiting the ridiculous arguments presented by the GOP. GOOD LUCK !

  3. Dr. B

    Just when I think I couldn’t hold you in higher esteem you go and surprise me!! I am not sure that my registration in Durham will allow me to vote for you but you certainly have my full support. I can’t think of anyone with more integrity and concern for others. I wish you nothing but the best. Your candidacy fills my heart with joy. Thank you.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  4. Russell S. Day (@Transcendian)

    My plan to build up the Transcendian International Party is to drive with my (now) DC to AC equipped car and play the guitar and say some focused things near by TV and Radio stations since without the currency of fame, I’ll fail.
    Guitars are well liked by both rednecks and hippies, and may have a unifying component. A close read of Frank Zappa, a fine guitarist who other fine guitarists played with would reveal him as essentially a redneck.
    Great Leaders give their engineers great and grand missions. The mission of accruing for the US all the energy and more that it needs from energy capture and renewables was not picked up well with the turn to natural gas, better to come from hogs than drilling. 3,000 drill holes gave the US what 300 drill holes gave the Saudi’s.
    Nixon & Kissinger’s Petrodollar is wobbling. The Petrodollar Imperative is destructive and finite.
    Of course things would be better if the US had not adopted so fully Meyer Lansky Financial engineering, which is divide and loot, and as capitalism itself fails for all rents go up since the money was used to buy deeds, sort of like how the payola scandal meant no longer would all the DJs get cash to play, but “reform” meant it was just the station managers.
    My international gift is the Insurodollar to counter the Petrodollar. Economics and John Commons and the Cultural lag mean as time ticks there is little time for the slow thinkers who never read and get all from TV truth is of little more commonality than sense.
    That 8th District will be a tough one. Guitars. Cars.
    You know how to run, better have fun at it.

  5. Tom Terrell

    I. Will. Send. You. A. Check!!!

  6. Mike Moore

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for giving me a good choice. I am in the only precinct in Mecklenburg county that is in the 8th district . I hate to walk away from the polls leaving that space blank but I will not vote for any one who is going to cut my throat. I will support you in
    my precinct.

  7. Zeke Buckner

    Thomas, I think you are a good person. I would hope you differ from Bernie Sanders on many issues. If not good luck, you’ll be needing it. BTW, what about the for profit providers pulling out of ACA?

    • Randy Hersom

      Single payer is the solution, but we need the House and a lively demonstration of the superiority of the vote over the dollar to make sure staying bought is no longer profitable and safe to make that happen. Franklin D Roosevelt did accomplish needed reforms with an opposition majority in the House, but the mood of the voters was such that following the cash was not to be tolerated.

  8. Avram Friedman

    Congratulations and good luck with this, Thomas.

    By now I’m sure you’re aware that polls have consistently shown Bernie Sanders doing much better in the general election than Hillary Clinton against all Republican candidates and everywhere throughout the country. He wins the independents and even many Republican votes.

    If you really want to shake things up and have a chance to win in your district I’d suggest coming out early for Bernie. Even Republicans are fed up with the status quo in their party.

    Denounce corporate political campaign contributions. Don’t accept them for your campaign.

    Call for a reversal of the Citizens United decision and an end to corporate personhood.

    Tell us you’ll work to break up the big banks and reinstate a modern version of the Glass-Steagle Act to protect homeowners and people saving for their retirement from the investment banking industry.

    Tell Duke Energy, the Koch Brothers, Art Pope and the American Legislative Exchange Council to get out of NC and federal politics.

    Address climate change as an urgent issue.

    Advocate for a single-payer healthcare system that covers ALL Americans at a much smaller per capita cost than the private insurance industry is now providing.

    Back Bernie’s call for a tuition free public college education for all academically qualified American students paid for by a small fee on all Wall Street speculation transactions.

    If you follow this and most of Bernie Sanders’ platform, you may actually stand a chance in the General Election in the 8th District.

    Another Hillary Clinton/corporately funded Republican-light Democrat won’t change anything and doesn’t stand a chance of shaking things up enough to win.

    Again, good luck in this endeavor.

    • Mike Moore

      A big AMEN from me

  9. Betsy Blackmore

    Good for you Thomas! Kick some Republican butt out there!

  10. brettmedia

    Go get ’em Thomas! You’re a great example of walking the walk, and not just talking about it, but, being about it!.

  11. Edward Davis

    Thomas Mills has an excellent resume, and deserves the nomination! He has demonstrated his respect for the voters, and his passion for good government that serves the people.

  12. Randy Hersom

    Bailey Wayne Tuttle is an alternative to a major party. So far he has done nothing to make himself known. Thomas is a major party alternative to our present congressman (Hudson) who has consistently voted a party line that funnels cash to the rich. I welcome the additional option and like what I know so far. As a Bernie Sanders supporter I want the the Democratic Party to be both more effective and more attuned to the will of the people. Any representative truly responsive to the voters will be a huge improvement over “bought and paid for” business as usual.

  13. Dwight Willis

    I love it when people step up to the plate and do the right thing and I applaud your courage. Let’s turn NC blue in 2016!

  14. Marion

    You rock, Thomas! Let me know how I can help?

    • Thomas Mills

      I’ll let you know.

  15. Zeke Buckner

    Richard Hudson is a fine person and represents the people well. What will you do differently from Mr. Hudson, and why should I cast my vote for you?

    • Thomas Mills

      I won’t vote repeatedly to deny people health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

  16. Randy Hersom

    Thanks for giving us a major party alternative. We hope you will be a force for real change and keep us fully informed of the pressures applied by special interests. It is a very real possibility that unconventional candidates will be richly rewarded by the boost in turnout and excitement resulting from Bernie Sanders rapid rise.

    • Paul Shannon

      How is Thomas an alternative to a major party? He is running as a Democrat.

  17. John Downing

    If I were in the 8th, you’d have my vote. Best of luck!

  18. Frank McGuirt

    Wonderful, wonderful! You are well informed and highly skilled. I wish you the best and rest assured I’m there for you 100%. Address for contributions?

    • Frank McGuirt

      Let me add: you come from a great family of public servants. I have great respect and admiration for your father. He was a fine judge.

      • Thomas Mills

        Thanks, Frank.

  19. George Greene

    Thank you very kindly. We cannot prove the districts arel unless we have an accurate count of *our*/voters. Now, thanks to you, we will have one in the 8th.

  20. Dave Connelly

    Excellent. The 8th District’s last “Democrat” (DINO) voted twice against Affordable Care, and still his district was not spared when NCGOP installed Apartheid, er, redistricting across the state in 2011.

  21. Lee Mortimer

    Thanks, Thomas, for having the courage of your convictions — urging people to run and showing by example the importance of “filling the ballot.” It looks like Democrats have challengers in all 13 congressional districts, replicating what was accomplished in 2012. And, the 8th looks like one of the more competitive districts. In 2012, the margin was 53% to 45%, closer than most others. So, who knows! Unfortunately, Democrats are leaving the same 40 legislative districts as in 2012 uncontested. But the congressional races may serve as an example for next time in legislative elections.

  22. John Eyles

    Glad to hear it, Thomas !

  23. Jim Lauer

    How do I get you some Money?

    • Thomas Mills

      I’ll be in touch soon, Jim. Thanks for your support.

  24. Terri Johnson

    You go, Thomas! We have your back even if not in your district. Thanks for stepping up and I’ll be sure to support your campaign.

  25. Ginny Davis

    Congratulations Thomas! I’m impressed that you have the stomach for it but – WOW – I pray that you win and can be a part of the change that has to happen. Please let me know what I can do to

  26. mary jones

    YAY!!! Show ’em how it’s done!

  27. Pam Williamson

    Way to go, Thomas. I am most impressed.

  28. Juan p. Alva

    YES!!! this is fantastic news…. you just let me know how I can help!

  29. Brian Irving

    Good luck. I have always enjoyed reading blog, even when (especially when) I disagree with your views. My only advice is to reach out to the independent (unaffiliated)voters & Libertarians. Don’t waste your time or energy trying to get support from your party. The establishment parties are not interested in helping anyone who rocks the boat or challenges their control.

    • Thomas Mills

      Thanks, Brian.

    • Dylan Frick

      As Chairman of the 8th District Democrats, I can assure you that the party, and all 12 of our counties, are 100% behind Thomas!

  30. Anne McLean

    Good for you, Thomas! Way to stand up! I wish you the best and would love to help if I can. Anne

  31. cosmicjanitor

    Good for you Thomas, I am humbled by your courage and pledge to be ardent supporter. Though I must add, with the candidate ‘support’ list getting ever longer, there are going to be a lot more ‘peanut butter sandwich’ dinners in my near future!

  32. Albert Blackshaw

    By “Every Republican House member having an opponent,” I assume you only mean incumbents, because I know of at least one race where the only 2 people running to fill a vacated seat (that of Rick Catlin) are both Republicans.

  33. marshalladame

    Lean on your County Chairs Thomas and get them to lean on your District Chair for support. Generally speaking the State Party and the DCCC will ignore you and will not provide meaningful resources. They will however offer to sell you the thing you really do need …, Vote Builder… You DO NEED VOTE BUILDER.
    Get as much free press as you can and start now!..
    Do not be afraid to ask for money from anyone you talk to and request volunteers each and every time you speak.
    Do not wait to be invited to speak.. Get a scheduler to call every group that can be reached by email and telephone.. and when you promise to show up.. do it.. Never break your word.

    • Thomas Mills

      Thanks, Marshall.

    • Nancy G. Rorie

      Rest assured, Marshall, Thomas will not have to “lean on the county chairs and have them lean on the district chair.” We are already behind him 100% every step of the way. He was the keynote speaker at a Union County fundraiser in 2013. I will be sending him the information of all political events in Union County (as I am sure the other party chairs will) and he knows he is welcome to speak again whenever his schedule permits.

  34. Norma Munn

    I can only hope your family is understanding and appreciative of this Christmas gift to them! Running for office and working at the same time is about as big a challenge as I can imagine. Best wishes for the new year and good luck!

  35. Margie Storch

    Thank you! Go get ’em!

  36. jwwilliamson

    Good for you! And good for this posting! Warms our hearts here in the mountains to see you carrying the fight forward.

  37. Katy Munger

    Well, this is a surprise! 🙂 I would not underestimate your chances. You are pretty moderate and people may finally, a little, at least some of them, be getting ired of extreme rhetoric . You are definitely a son of North Carolina who understands this state well. I hope that knowledge serves you well during your campaign. I will be rooting for you to win.

  38. David Scott

    I commend you for your courage and wish you well.

  39. Nancy G. Rorie

    Thank you, Thomas! It will be fun. I’m with you til the bitter end.

    • Brad

      Good for you! Braver than most of us. I will work to support your campaign.

      All the best!

  40. David Morgan

    You will be great for the 8th & I look forward to supporting you Tom!!!

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