Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published May 18 2012
GOP picks Bills to face Klobuchar
Backing his theme of “taking Economics 101 to Washington,” Minnesota Republicans on Friday handed Bills a second-ballot endorsement for U.S. Senate to run against Democrat U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
It wasn’t close among the 2,000 state convention delegates: Bills won with 64 percent of the state party convention vote, well ahead of 21 percent for Dan Severson and 15 percent for Pete Hegseth.
Severson and Hegseth said they will not challenge Bills in the primary election.
“We are going to take our government back,” Bills declared after winning the endorsement.
Bills is a Ron Paul backer, supporting the Texas congressman’s liberty concepts. But while in some states traditional Republicans and Paul libertarians have fought, Bills said that will not happen in Minnesota.
“Whatever our differences are, they pale in comparison to our similarities,” he said.
The high school economics teacher from Rosemount told 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.
Minnesota Republican Chairman Pat Shortridge said even with the three-man race, he is confident the party will be behind Bills.
Bills 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.
He promised to “focus on spending, paring down spending on the federal level.” After being endorsed, Bills stood in front of a blue school bus that he plans to take around the state in his campaign against Klobuchar.
Bills, who said he would serve no more than two six-year terms, pledged to “raise millions of dollars” to fight Klobuchar, who has more than $5 million in her campaign account.
Klobuchar’s campaign spokesman, Justice Buoen, disputed Republican comments indicating that she does not vote for Minnesotans: “Amy has always put Minnesota first and has a strong record of standing up for our state and getting things done. That’s what she will continue to do.”
Bills, like Hegseth, only announced the Senate campaign this spring. Severson ran for a year, two years after he lost the secretary of state’s race.
Severson, a former state representative and military pilot, 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.
“I’m proven, and I’m vetted,” Severson added.
Hegseth, meanwhile, was making his first run at office after serving in the Iraq and Afghan wars and running a national military veterans’ organization.
“I will be the courageous, constant conservative you deserve,” he told delegates.
Endorsing the Senate candidate was Friday’s convention highlight. It concludes today with national convention delegate and other state party officials’ elections.
Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.
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