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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published May 18 2012

UPDATED: Minnnesota Republicans pick Bills to run against Klobuchar

ST. CLOUD, Minn. – First-term state Rep. Kurt Bills is the Minnesota Republican Party’s pick to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Bills won on the second ballot with 64 percent of state party convention vote, well ahead of 21 percent for Dan Severson and 15 percent for Pete Hegseth.

The high school economics teacher from Rosemount told 2,000 state convention delegates he is like David fighting the Goliath of Klobuchar and other Washington Democrats.

“I humbly ask you to send me to Washington to defeat the giants,” he said.

Endorsing the Senate candidate was Friday’s convention highlight. It concludes Saturday.

The Rosemount lawmaker argued that he needs to “take economics 101 to Washington,” playing off his teaching job.

He also let delegates know they were endorsing a small-business owner. He and his wife own a home day care center.

Like other candidates, Bills mentioned the Bible and emphasized his Christian background.

Republicans pulled no punches when it came to Klobuchar and other Democrats.

Rep. Keith Downey of Edina nominated Bills, asking if delegates liked their U.S. senators, Klobuchar and Al Franken. The question was greeted with boos.

“Are you ready for a change?” he asked. “Then Kurt Bills is your man.”

In a video before his spoke to the convention, Bills said a high school economics student asked him: “What are we supposed to do about this?” While on the surface it may have sounded like the question was about the economy, Bills said he realized the question really was about “a deficit of leadership.”

He promised to “focus on spending, paring down spending on the federal level.” Severson emphasized his attempts to get minorities involved in his campaign and the Republican Party.

“I’m the only one who can do it,” Severson said about attracting folks normally not Republican voters.

As delegates tried to navigate St. Cloud streets en route to the River’s Edge Convention Center, state GOP Chairman Pat Shortridge declared that “Republican-on-Republican violence” was about to end with selection of a U.S. Senate candidate.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.