Election Notebook: Bills Get Into TV Commercial Game

Kurt Bills’ first television commercial of his U.S. Senate campaign attacks Sen. Amy Klobuchar with allegations she says are false.

The 30-second commercial claims that as Hennepin County attorney, Klobuchar ignored evidence against Tom Petters, who later was prosecuted in a scheme to bilk investors.

“He ran one of the biggest ponzi schemes in history … and Amy Klobuchar helped keep him out of prison,” the spot says.

Klobuchar, a first-term Democrat, told a Bills staff member who records her at campaign appearances that “they are untrue allegations,” adding that if Bills has evidence of wrongdoing that he could turn them over to a prosecutor.

Klobuchar and Hennepin County attorney’s office spokesmen said no evidence against Petters was given to her.

Bills’ campaign scheduled the commercial to run in the Twin Cities during Thursday night’s Minnesota Vikings-Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game.

Earlier in the year, campaign manager Mike Osskopp said the first TV ad would be to introduce Bills to the public. Bills is a little-known first-term state representative and Rosemount High School economics teacher.

Klobuchar has run four television commercials, but said she was the last senator seeking re-election to start her advertising.

Bills’ campaign reported it had $68,000 in the bank at the end of last month, while Klobuchar had $4.9 million.

The latest public poll in the race, from Rasmussen Reports, showed Klobuchar ahead 56 percent to 33 percent, with 9 percent undecided and 2 percent behind another candidate. Other polls have shown Klobuchar with bigger leads.

Split on amendments

A St. Cloud State University poll shows Minnesota voters appear to be split on the two constitutional amendment proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The survey shows 51 percent of likely voters would cast ballots against an amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Fifty-five percent of likely voters favor a proposal to require voters to show photo identification.

Constitutional amendments must receive votes of more than half of all ballots cast, not just those cast for or against amendments. Candidate races are won by the person who collects more votes than anyone else, which in multi-candidate races may not even be half of those voting in that race.

Absentee votes pile up

Minnesotans have cast more than 114,000 absentee votes, the secretary of state’s office reported.

State law allows voters who will be away from their precincts on Nov. 6 to cast absentee ballots in person or by mail if they request a ballot from elections officials.

For most Minnesotans, their county auditor’s office is the contact point for absentee ballots.

Obama ahead

Slightly more than half of Minnesota voters back President Barack Obama, a Rasmussen Reports poll shows.

The survey of likely voters showed Democrat Obama with 51 percent and Republican Mitt Romney with 46 percent. One percent was undecided and another 1 percent prefers another candidate.

The Obama campaign is touring Minnesota this week, without the candidate, to encourage backers to vote on Nov. 6. The Romney campaign has no office in the state.