By T.W. Budig, ECM Capitol Reporter
If U.S. Senate campaigns officially begin with a candidate kissing a baby, Rep. Kurt Bills’ campaign is underway.
Bills, 42, placed a smacker on the cheek of nine-months-old Kaylene Hensley of Alexandria Friday, May 18, in St. Cloud shortly after winning the Republican Party’s endorsement for U.S. Senate.
Bills performed the campaign ritual before the blue backdrop of his campaign’s converted school bus, now sporting slogans like “Let’s Bring Econ 101 To Washington” and a mock stop sign proclaiming a stop to government spending.
He and his family, explained Bills, intend to “rattle around” the state in the bus campaigning. Indeed, the back of the bus may get an upgrade from a church group to make it more comfortable for Bills, his wife Cindy, and the couple’s four children, the candidate explained.
Prior to his father speaking, Bills’ son Hayden could be seen peeking and smiling from the bus driver’s window.
“We’re going to come out of this race united,” Bills told some 2,000 Republican delegates at the St. Cloud Civic Center today after defeating former state representative Dan Severson and Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Pete Hegseth for the endorsement on the second ballot.
Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Pat Shortridge echoed the sentiment, saying voters crave noncareer politicians — Bills is currently serving his first year in the House.
Republican delegates, said Shortridge, would readily and quickly rally behind their newly endorsed U.S. Senate candidate.
Bills indicated that if elected to the U.S. Senate he would serve no more than two terms.
“Yes, I would,” he said of setting a private term limit.
Bills argues his campaign will be able to compete with Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a popular, well-funded candidate.
“I think we’ll be able to raise millions of dollars,” said Bills.
Bills also spoke of networking and grassroot politics as sustaining his election bid.
When asked whether his political beliefs were too conservative for the average voter, Bills argued the number of endorsements that he has received shows he has political appeal to a wide base of people.
He had no intention of modifying his political stance on the issues for the general election, Bills indicated.
In his speech before the convention, Bills spoke of “Obamanomics” and Klobuchar’s support of perceived failed economic policies of the president.
Bills has taught high school economics for 15 years.
He explains his entrance into politics as stemming from questions his alarmed students have asked him concerning the ballooning national debt.
Although Bills did not offer any details on the fiscal policies he would champion in the Senate, he indicated that the federal budget plan offered by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin constituted a sound approach.
Minnesota Democratic Party Chairman Ken Martin argued that Klobuchar has been doing a good job.
“Senator Klobuchar has been a leader in the Senate and has a record of getting things done for Minnesota,” he said.
“Nearly two-thirds of her bills have been with Republicans and she has consistently put Minnesota first to cut red tape and deliver results for our families and businesses,” said Martin.
“She’s Senator Effective for Minnesota,” said Martin.