Lori Sturdevant, an editorial writer and columnist, has covered state government and politics for more than 30 years.

The econ teacher and the senator

Posted by: Lori Sturdevant Updated: May 18, 2012 - 4:50 PM

Kurt Bills made it look easy Friday, handily besting two other serious contenders in only two ballots to win Republican endorsement for the U.S. Senate.  

He won’t have it easy from here on out. Bills, a first-term state representative from Rosemount and backer of GOP presidential contender

Bills will take on U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, as formidable a Democrat as is seeking reelection anywhere in the country this year. At the end of March, her campaign reported raising more than $8 million and having $5.2 million on hand; Bills’ campaign reported raising roughly $47,000 through the same date.  

Bills, 42, is a high school economics teacher who made ample reference to his desire to “take Economics 101 to Washington D.C.” He also likened himself to the biblical youth David aiming to slay the giant Goliath—the giant in this case being the national debt.

Bills acknowledged Klobuchar’s popularity as he addressed the GOP state convention in St. Cloud, and attempted to turn an enviable political asset into a liability: “Minnesota isn’t electing Miss Congeniality this November,” he said. “It’s easy to have a senator guided by political virtue. We need a senator guided by economic virtue.”

Plainly, Bills wants the Senate race to concentrate on his long suit, economic policy. Nothing in his background or his convention presentation suggested particular depth, or even interest, in any other topic on the national agenda. 

Still, given voters’ preoccupation with the economy as the Great Recession’s hangover lingers, Bills’ long suit might serve him surprisingly well.

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