Former Rosemount City Council member and current first-term Republican State Rep. Kurt Bills highlighted his experience as a high school math teacher as he announced his campaign for U.S. Senate Thursday.
At a news conference in downtown Rosemount, Bills talked about the importance of shrinking the national debt and addressing deficit spending.
"I've watched in great detail as the various deficits and debts that our country has have grown into shockingly large proportions of our overall economy," he said. "It doesn't seem to matter who's in charge. The mismanagement of our entitlements, the loss of the purchasing power of our wages and our national debt figures have only gotten worse it seems as time goes on."
Bills criticized DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar for supporting government bailout programs.
"I've watched in great detail as the various deficits and debt that our country has have grown into shockingly large proportions of our overall economy," he said. "It doesn't seem to matter who's in charge. The mismanagement of our entitlements, the loss of the purchasing power of our wages and our national debt figures have only gotten worse as time goes on."
Bills offered no details on how he would address the national debt. He also didn't say how much money he thought he would need for his Senate campaign.
He joins Dan Severson and Pete Hegseth in seeking the Republican endorsement to run against Klobuchar. All three men say they will abide by the endorsement.
A freshman state lawmaker says he's considering a run for the U.S. Senate and may announce his plans later this week.
Rep. Kurt Bills, R-Rosemount, says he's been weighing a possible run for several months. Although he's a Republican he didn't rule out running as a Libertarian.
Bills was first elected to the House in 2010. He campaigned for Texas Congressman Ron Paul's presidential bid during last month's precinct caucuses.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar is running for re-election. Two Republicans, Dan Severson and Pete Hegseth, are already running.
Republican Pete Hegseth formally launched a campaign for U.S. Senate against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Thursday.
At a state Capitol news conference, Hegseth criticized Klobuchar for supporting government bailouts and stimulus spending. Hegseth, 31, is a Minnesota Army National Guard captain who has never before run for office. He says his age and lack of elective office experience should not be factors against him.
"I think a lot of Minnesotans are kind of sick of the folks that have run for office their entire life and have been career politicians and have spent their entire life maneuvering and calculating their way to some higher office," said Hegseth. "I've spent my time in service serving in the military."
Hegseth has two bronze stars for his military service and recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He says he will abide by the GOP endorsement process. So does former State Rep. Dan Severson, the only other Republican actively campaigning to run against Klobuchar.
Hegseth did not say how much money he thinks he will need to raise for his campaign.
A new poll by Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling shows that Sen. Amy Klobuchar is in a strong position headed into the 2012 election.
About 61 percent of Minnesotans hold a favorable view of Klobuchar, according to the poll. Roughly 80 percent of those polled said they have no opinion of her declared challengers.
Voters approve of her fellow DFL Sen. Al Franken by a 49-39 percent margin.
Meanwhile, 57 percent of those polled say they have an unfavorable view of Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who recently ended her run for the White House. The same percentage of voters say Bachmann should not run again for office.
Only 39 percent of those polled approve of Gov. Tim Pawlenty. A majority of voters - about 51 percent - say they would not support Pawlenty in a future run for a statewide office.
Public Policy Polling president Dean Debnam said the numbers show Bachmann and Pawlenty's presidential bids did damage to their reputations at home.
"Both are unpopular and would have a hard time getting elected to statewide office in the future," Debnam said.
Read more about the poll here.
When she dropped out of the race for president today, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann didn't say what her future would be. She's still a sitting member of the U.S. House but hasn't said if she'll run for re-election. Her spokesman, Alice Stewart, said Bachmann doesn't know what she's going to do next.
Bachmann has a few options.
1) She could run for the U.S. Senate.
Republicans would love to see Bachman make a run against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar, especially since a top tier GOP candidate hasn't emerged yet. A major challenge for Bachmann is to shift gears from being an "Iowan" running for president to a Minnesotan running for the U.S. Senate. Polling also suggests that Bachmann would have a lot of ground to make up if she challenges Klobuchar.
2) She could run for re-election.
Bachmann is extremely popular among Republican activists and can raise money from small donors. But again her claim to being an Iowan could come back to hurt her. There's no doubt those comments will be put in attack ads if she makes another run for Congress. She also raised and spent a lot of money on the race for the White House , and it isn't clear how much she has left. If she has an empty campaign account, Bachmann will have to start from scratch and can't ask major donors to max out to her campaign if they already wrote large dollar checks to her presidential campaign. Another deterrent is Bachmann is on the outs with GOP leadership in the House. She lost a bid for a leadership position last year and didn't please Republican leaders when she stepped on the GOP response to last year's State of the Union.
3) She could capitalize on her star power.
Bachmann has been a dynamic speaker who energizes many Republicans and angers many Democrats. She's also unpredictable. All of those factors make her a prime catch for a national TV or radio host. She could also write another book, but as MPR's Brett Neely reported earlier this month that Bachmann's book sales have not been brisk.
Posted at 10:03 PM on May 16, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: 2012 U.S. Senate race
Republican Dan Severson launched a campaign for U.S. Senate today against incumbent DFLer Amy Klobuchar. Severson is a former state Representative and a former Navy pilot. Standing on the state Capitol steps, Severson talked about rising gas prices, problems with unemployment and the increasing national debt. He did not mention Klobuchar's name and instead broadly blamed Democrats in Washington for the nation's problems.
"Minnesota families are struggling to make ends meet," Severson said. "The solutions coming from the White House and U.S. Senate is more government control and increasing the debt limits on the backs of our children and our grandchildren."
Klobuchar was elected in 2006. She ended the first quarter of this year with more and $2.5 million in campaign cash. Severson said he thought he would need between $9 to $12 million for his Senate campaign. He also said if he failed to win the GOP endorsement, he would drop out of the race. Severson ran unsuccessfully last year for Secretary of State.
Note: A special thanks to MPR's Mark Zdechlik who shot the video, recorded audio, took pictures and wrote a story on Severson's announcement. This is proof that political reporters are forced to juggle several things at events like this. For those wondering, he's the person to the left of Severson.
Former state Rep. Dan Severson was seen at the State Capitol today with a film crew. Severson, who lost his Secretary of State run in 2010 to Democrat Mark Ritchie, didn't tell MPR News why he was with a film crew earlier this morning. Instead he said he was going to make an announcement on Monday on the steps of the State Capitol. It's expected that Severson is going to make a run for the U.S. Senate. A Draft Dan Severson for U.S. Senate was created on Facebook.
He also told the AP last month that he was seriously thinking about making a run against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
State Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville, says he's considering a run for the U.S. Senate against DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Thompson, a first term lawmaker who serves as Assistant Majority Leader, says several Republicans have approached him about a possible run. He said he won't make a final decision until the legislative session is over on May 23rd.
"You would have to get going relatively soon," Thompson said. "I would make that decision within a reasonably short time after session ends."
Thompson, a former radio host, said he intends to challenge Klobuchar's record and her support of President Obama if he decides to run.
"It would take a very strong effort to beat her," Thompson said. "I think the largest problem that she has is she is a supporter of an administration that has taken us to a level of deficits and national debt that most people consider unacceptable."
Thompson is the latest Republican to be mentioned as a possible challenger to Klobuchar but no one has officially announced a campaign against her. Klobuchar has high approval ratings in the state and is well financed. She's also considered one of the strongest Democratic incumbents to be running in 2012.
The blog, Political Party Time, says DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar will hold a fundraiser at the Glee! Live in Concert show at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. in June. Klobuchar is asking attendees to pay $2,000 to attend the event - roughly $1900 more than the asking price for a ticket to the event.
Republicans in Minnesota are working to find a candidate to challenge DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2012. But some of the bigger names aren't willing to get into the race. Former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman announced yesterday that he isn't running for the seat.
Few candidates have made appearances at GOP events. That's typically the first step for people who want to test the waters for a possible run. Only Harold Shudlick, who lost the GOP endorsement to Mark Kennedy in 2006, was seen actively campaigning for the post at last December's MNGOP meeting.
Many higher profile candidates are spending more time telling reporters to take their names off the 2012 list.
"I didn't decide not to run for my House seat, just to immediately find another office to run for," Former GOP state Rep. Laura Brod wrote to me in an e-mail. "I am not a candidate for US senate in 2012."
Former House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, who lost the GOP endorsement for governor in 2010, wrote on Twitter that he's not running either.
"I just got off the phone with Roll Call magazine confirming that I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2012 or 2014."
GOP state Sen. Julie Rosen also said she heard her name surface as a possible candidate, but she says she's leaning against it.
"I'm honored with the recommendation but at this point, No, I would not be interested in running against Sen. Klobuchar," Rosen said.
Another legislator, GOP state Sen. David Hann, says he's more focused on the legislative session than a run for the U.S. Senate.
"I'm not ruling out anything but I'm not making any plan at this point because I'm not thinking about anything beyond the state budget and how to get that done."
One person who may be considering a run in 2012 is Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. Stanek said, "no comment," when asked if he was thinking about running against Klobuchar. Several people close to Stanek tell me, however, that he doesn't want to take anything off the table at this point. They say Stanek is more interested in a run for governor in 2014. (Update: Stanek says he's not interested in running in 2012).
In fact, a lot of Republicans are looking at 2014. That's when DFL Sen. Al Franken is up for reelection. Franken barely won his seat in 2008 and as many political insiders know, his approval ratings are lower than Klobuchar's numbers. Take for example, Ron Schutz. Here's the response I got when I asked the attorney with Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi if he was interested in running for Senate.
"Which year?" Schutz said jokingly.
Schutz said a 2014 run for U.S. Senate is a better option for him. He says he'll be 59 at that time and may be more willing to take another step in his career.
"I have not said 'No way in hell will I ever do this, but a lot of circumstances would have to change before I put my hat in the ring in 2012."
Another person mentioned as a possible candidate against Klobuchar is Bill Guidera, a lobbyist for News Corp. Guidera could not be reached for a comment.
Minnesota Republican Party Chair Tony Sutton says he's not worried that a candidate hasn't emerged yet. He said he's had private meetings with several potential candidates and has been "very aggressive" in finding a candidate to challenge Klobuchar.
"There are people definitely weighing their options," Sutton said. "It's only February of the off year. We have plenty of time. I think you'll start to see people emerge here and bubble up in the next 60 to 90 days, and it would be a very vigorous contest."
Sutton said he thinks a candidate will still have time to campaign and raise money if he or she announces by the summer. Sutton insisted that Klobuchar is vulnerable. He called her support "a mile wide and an inch deep."
Klobuchar has been keeping relatively quiet on the political front as she waits to see who her potential opponent may be. She downplayed any talk of 2012 and who she may face in that election.
"We just got done with an election two months ago in Minnesota," Klobuchar said. "I think people truly want us to focus on what we need to do. We are just done with one. I'm just focused on the people of the state of Minnesota. I'm going to keep doing that and politics will eventually rear it's head but right now it's time to work for Minnesota."
One wild card in this race is GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann, who appears to be gearing up for a run for the White House, could make a run for the U.S. Senate instead. Bachmann is a solid fundraiser and has high name recognition. One problem for her is that a recent poll shows her well behind Klobuchar.