Klobuchar wins 2nd Senate term

Published 4:11 am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — Democrat Amy Klobuchar breezed to a second term in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, brushing aside a little-known and poorly funded Republican challenger.

Klobuchar easily beat state Rep. Kurt Bills and a third-party candidate. The race was never considered close, after big-name Republicans decided against trying to tackle the popular senator with high name recognition and a rich campaign fund.

“I’ve been working all across Minnesota, visiting all 87 counties every year,” Klobuchar said in a phone interview on Tuesday night. “I always felt like I understood the state. I just decided I’d work as hard as I could and keep doing my job.”

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Bills, a high school economics teacher from the Twin Cities suburb of Rosemount and a first-term state lawmaker, became his party’s choice thanks to support from backers of Texas congressman Ron Paul, whose maverick presidential bid infused a strong new contingent of civil and economic libertarians into the party. Bills immediately struggled to gain traction with traditional GOP donors, however. Some of them were won over by Klobuchar’s moves toward the middle. Others disliked Bills for his Paul connections.

Klobuchar has scored consistently well in opinion polls since winning her first term in 2006. She drew endorsements from right-leaning business leaders around the state, and she raised massive amounts of money to help her cause. By mid-September, Klobuchar had nearly $5 million in her campaign account, while Bills had about $5,000.

Klobuchar, a former county prosecutor, ran hard anyway. She played up several pieces of legislation she worked on with Republicans as evidence of her bipartisanship and pledging to make national debt reduction her top priority in a second term.

“We clearly have to keep moving the economy along. There’s still a lot of work to do,” she said.

While Klobuchar was running a pair of soft-edge commercials playing up her moderate credentials, Bills couldn’t afford TV ads at all. His campaign attacked Klobuchar more directly as the campaign progressed, but she mostly ignored him by focusing on touting her record.

Exit polling data showed Klobuchar beating Bills in every region of the state, every age group and most other demographic categories.

“She’s an incredible woman,” said Mary Indritz, 52, a stay-at-home mom from Roseville who described herself as an independent.

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