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Published May 18, 2012, 03:23 PM

Bills takes early lead for GOP Senate endorsement

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota state Rep. Kurt Bills has jumped to an early lead in the race for U.S. Senate endorsement at the Republican State Convention.

By: PATRICK CONDON, Associated Press

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota state Rep. Kurt Bills has jumped to an early lead in the race for U.S. Senate endorsement at the Republican State Convention.

Balloting started around lunchtime Friday at the St. Cloud Civic Center. After the first ballot, Bills claimed support of 53 percent of delegates. A 60-percent majority is needed for endorsement, leaving Bills only about 150 votes short of clinching the party nod.

Former state representative Dan Severson took second place, while military veteran and activist Pete Hegseth is in third. A second round of balloting is underway.

Bills is a high school economics teacher from Rosemount who cites that experience as a way to connect with voters on the economy. The winner of the GOP endorsement will face the Democratic incumbent, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, in November.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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