Memo to Kurt Bills: Time Is Running Out

As a proud Republican, I’m concerned with your campaign’s performance in yesterday’s Republican primary. In fact, I’m concerned about the current state of your entire campaign. You haven’t solicited this advice, but I, and many others in the Republican Party think you need to read this advice. It’s your campaign – your name is on the lawn signs – take the advice, or ignore it. It’s up to you.

Let’s review yesterday’s unofficial primary results. As of 8:04 PM tonight, your campaign received 51 percent of the vote – a total of 63,386 votes.  U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar received 183,850 votes or 90 percent of the vote.  49 percent of Republican primary voters cast a ballot for someone other than you. In fact, you lost two Congressional Districts (1st & 7th) to a candidate that filed on the last day of the filing period to run against you, but still worked very hard on the campaign trail in a very short period of time. If David Carlson had more time, the race would have been closer.

In 2008, I wrote a post on my former blog, Minnesota Democrats Exposed, where I called Al Franken receiving 65 percent of the vote in the DFL primary a “total embarrassment for Team Franken.” You received 51 percent of the vote.

Republicans in Minnesota want your campaign to be successful and they desperately want you elected to the United States Senate this November. But since you became the endorsed Republican candidate, your campaign has stalled and has completely disappeared from the political landscape in Minnesota. It has gotten so bad, that many Republicans believe that unless there are dramatic changes made to your campaign, your campaign will negatively impact other candidates running for office and could cause the legislature to completely flip to the Minnesota DFL and drag down other GOP candidates.

I was at the Republican Party of Minnesota during the aftermath of Tom Emmer’s tip-credit debacle when his campaign struggled to make the much needed course-correction. Please don’t make the same mistakes, please don’t wait weeks to correct your campaign. It needs help and it needs it now.

With the goal of being helpful, here are the things you can do to fix your campaign in the next few weeks.

#1.  Stop attending so many GOP events. You’re the Republican endorsed candidate – stop attending so many GOP events and start attending more events where you’re interacting with Democrats and independents. A Republican candidate running statewide can’t build the necessary coalition to win in November by attending just GOP events.

#2.  Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise. Your campaign boasted during the endorsement battle that you would be able to raise the necessary resources to compete with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. Not only have you not raised the necessary resources, Klobuchar’s campaign could spend the next few months completely ignoring your candidacy, freeing her to campaign across the state for DFL candidates and financially contribute to the DFL Party’s campaign efforts statewide.

#3.  This isn’t Texas – it’s Minnesota. You’ re running for the U.S. Senate – you’re not running to be Ron Paul’s running mate. Your associating with Paul is and will continue to be a general election liability.  This is an election that will be about jobs and the economy and you can articulate the issues important in this race without relaying on talking points from Ron Paul.

#4. Have fun on the campaign trail, because it doesn’t look like you’re enjoying running for the U.S. Senate. The Minnesota State Fair is coming up – this is a great opportunity for you to meet with Minnesotans and talk in a causal & fun environment about the changes needed in Washington.

#5. Travel the state, visiting key media markets and start taking the battle to U.S. Senator Klobuchar.  Your campaign hasn’t done enough to define her as a candidate and since you likely won’t have the resources to run many paid-media advertisements, you will need to rely on earned-media to contrast your positions with U.S. Senator Klobuchar. 

#6. Spend some time over the next few days and take an inventory of every aspect of your campaign. From lawn signs to social media, from staffing to policy positions. Your campaign needs a complete re-tooling. Aside from compromising your principles, nothing should be sacred – everything should be on the table. Time is running out.


  1. I think the plan you describe is at least the minimum. The one I support the most is stop all the attending GOP events. If you have to go stop say Hi and split. Go to where all the voters are. He is suppose to have the GOP support. He obviously does not. That is a huge probem.

    • “[..nothing should be sacred – everything should be on the table.”

      Uff-da that’s a good one! We all know that’s not how the Senate works.

      Welcome back and congratulation on your new site Michael.

  2. /..”[nothing should be sacred – everything should be on the table.”/

    Uff da, that’s good one Michael! Too bad the Senate doesn’t work that way too. ;^)

  3. You nailed it. The hard truth is that Kurt Bills will not win this election, in that he won’t beat Klobo. But he doesn’t have to beat her to “win”. He MUST be competitive, he must drive the narrative on DFL from, basically, the top of the state wide MNGOP ticket. The state senate/house candidates need him to be viable in order to keep DFL resources out of their races. And if Romney has any chance at this state, he needs a very strong Bills campaign. From what I have seen, its not going to happen. Maybe they call Carlson and ask him how to run a campaign.

  4. This is fine advice, but the majority of Minnesotans already understand that Bills is not a serious candidate. Even some mainstream Republicans like myself like Klobuchar. She’s plenty moderate and she works on things that directly affect our state.

    As for Bills attending Democratic or Independent events, what’s the point? Those people aren’t going to be affected by any “bringing down” of the mainstream Republican party. Tea partiers are another group altogether – and don’t typically attend Dem or Indy events.

    Anyway, you make some other good points.

  5. Well said.

  6. And as a proud Democrat, I voted for one of Kurt Bills’s primary challengers. I don’t remember which one it was. But in an otherwise somewhat-lousy primary for my preferred local race candidates, what happened to Bills is what I was shooting for.

    I don’t agree that his weak candidacy will hurt the GOP as a whole. First, Repubs HATE Barack Obama. That’s reason enough for them to vote. Second, there are two extremely divisive amendments on the ballot. The dog whistle has been sounded, and the turnout will be massive. I will be somewhat surprised if the state legislature changes hands.

  7. Skip the national convention unless you can raise a ton of money. Be here. Be at the State Fair. That is where the voters are.

  8. Hi There, Fyi your WP widget section doesn’t quite line up in Opera on my iPad2. GBU

  9. “Aside from compromising your principles,…]”

    Kind of ironic coming from you, no?

  10. Hey BK…I’m glad you can read my website at Securian.

    • Perhaps someone looking for some redemption and a second chance might do well to be a little less dickish.

  11. Pingback: Smart Move: Bills to Endorse Romney | - An inside view of Minnesota politics by Michael Brodkorb

  12. Pingback: Mikey takes his shot at redemption | LeftMN

  13. Michael
    Welcome back.
    As an Eagan resident and a follower of MDE for many years I still value your opinion and regard you as a trusted source in politics.
    Good to see you back on the web.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.