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Republicans back Bills for U.S. Senate

It is smile time for Kurt Bills Friday as it appears he is near winning the Minnesota Republican U.S. Senate endorsement. Photo by Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau

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 1,353 votes, well ahead of Pete Hegseth with 439 and Dan Severson's 3`6.

The high school 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.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.