Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills says auto dealer Paul Walser’s endorsement of Amy Klobuchar in a campaign ad shows the Democratic U.S. senator is a “crony capitalist.” Klobuchar’s campaign released an ad this week that featured Walser, a Republican, thanking Klobuchar for her work to save his dealership when General Motors underwent restructuring.
“I don’t know why you do an ad like that,” Bills said. “It’s showing you’re a crony capitalist. You’re going to side with the people who can fill your campaign coffers up.”
Bills said there “won’t be a lot of rich elites running” to him to donate money because he opposed the auto bailout and TARP for banks.
Over the past few weeks, Bills and his campaign have been suggesting that Klobuchar is a part of a Washington D.C. establishment that favors big business over the average American.
He also suggested that Walser, who typically donates to Republican candidates, ran the ad because Klobuchar is backing him.
Walser told the Star Tribune that it’s preposterous to suggest the ad was payback.
Klobuchar’s campaign took issue with Bills’ suggestion.
“Senator Klobuchar is proud of the work she has done to make sure these businesses got a fair shake instead of being shut down without cause,” Klobuchar campaign spokesman Linden Zakula wrote in an e-mail.
Zakula also notes that Klobuchar worked to save 28 auto dealerships and that the ad featured Walser and two other car dealers (Fury Dodge Chrysler & Valley Pontiac Buick GMC) that were facing possible closure.
Zakula said the Minnesota Auto Dealers named Klobuchar their “Legislator of the Year” in 2009 for her efforts to save the dealerships.