Election Notebook: Bills' wife says 'whatever you believe,' vote
MINNEAPOLIS -- The wife of Minnesota's Republican U.S. Senate candidate asked voters to vote, even as a new poll put her husband far behind.
"Whatever you believe, I encourage you to respectfully fight for principles, be informed about the candidates and issues, and exercise your right to vote," Cindy Bills wrote in a letter to the editor. "It's the best way your voice can be heard."
A Star Tribune poll released Tuesday indicated that few Minnesotans are hearing Kurt Bills' message as he challenges U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
The poll showed Democrat Klobuchar with 65 percent of the vote, compared to Republican Bills' 22 percent. And in a statistic almost never seen in a candidate from one of the two major parties, 52 percent of voters said they never had heard of Bills.
He is a first-term state representative and Rosemount High School economics teacher. He had several thousand dollars in the bank at last report, while Klobuchar had millions. Polls show Klobuchar to be the state's most popular politician.
In her letter, Cindy Bills said "involvement in government and political affairs isn't someone else's job; it's our right and responsibility."
She explained that her husband, who also served a term on the Rosemount City Council, was frustrated with federal government decisions and decided to run.
"As I traveled around the state these past eight months, I learned a lot and became increasingly motivated," she said. "I met people who lost their homes, are struggling to keep their businesses alive, are trying to find work to support their family, are concerned about the debt and economy, or are hoping to retire. Young people wonder about their future. They all made me passionate about change needed in Washington. This is good. We all need a fire under us."
Mondale's the man
Ten years ago, Walter Mondale stepped up to become the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate upon Sen. Paul Wellstone's death.
Tuesday, he stepped up again, but this time it was just to fill time while 1,800 people in Minneapolis waited for Former President Bill Clinton to finish a photo session with top Obama campaign volunteers.
He repeated comments made by other Democratic-Farmer-Laborite politicians and glanced to his left.
"Good morning, Big Bird," he said. "We are glad to have you here."
Later, he invited the yellow-costumed character to the stage to help fill time, but the children's favorite declined.
Big Bird has been a Democratic favorite since Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney vowed to cut public television funding, including that for the bird's Sesame Street home.
Eventually even Mondale ran out of things to discuss while the crowd continued to wait for Clinton, and was replaced by canned music.
Clinton, known for being late and talking long, started 38 minutes after the appointed time in his Minneapolis appearance and his speech lasted 38 minutes.
Minnesota's Democratic politicians showed their fiery side Tuesday while warming up a University of Minnesota Minneapolis crowd for former President Bill Clinton.
Former Vice President Walter Mondale went after a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage.
"Shame on you," he told amendment supporters.
Mondale said Minnesotans such as Hubert Humphrey led the fight for civil rights, which he compared to the effort to allow gays to marry.
Gov. Mark Dayton urged the Democratic audience to work hard to get DFL legislators elected. "I have my fingers and my toes crossed."
He called the marriage and voter ID amendments "terrible."