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District Republicans choose Hall, Wills for legislative races

District 57 Republicans will back two candidates with current ties to the Minnesota legislature in local House and Senate races.

In a decision delayed a month due to the unexpected retirement by current Senator Chris Gerlach and the decision of Rep. Kurt Bills to run for U.S. Senate, the district's Republican party met Saturday at Rosemount Middle School and chose Apple Valley resident Pat Hall as their candidate for Senate and Apple Valley resident Anna Wills as their candidate in House District 57B.

Hall, who has two daughters who graduated from Rosemount High School, has a brother, Dan, who currently serves in the Minnesota Senate. Wills works as a legislative assistant at the capitol.

Both were endorsed on the first ballot, Hall over Tim Gould and Wills by acclimation in a field that did not include any other candidates.

Hall, a pastor at True Life Covenant Church who spends much of his time planting new churches, will face off against former Rosemount High School principal Greg Clausen for the District 57 Senate seat. Wills will face Rosemount resident Jeff Wilfahrt.

The campaign process is already under way for both candidates.

"I had the chance to knock on doors and meet a lot of people, and that's what I love to do, because I like people," Hall said.

Hall got involved with politics working on his brother's campaign. He said then he was looking forward to having his own opportunity to run. He just didn't expect that opportunity to come so soon. He said the decision to run came quickly after Gerlach announced plans to retire at the end of his term.

So far, he said, things are going well.

"It's just so darn exciting," Hall said. "I cannot believe how many people are coming out of the woodwork to be involved in this. I'm overwhelmed with phone calls, with emails, with people coming to my house saying, 'What can I do?'"

Wills expected to be one of those helpers this year. Active in politics since she was a teenager, she was making plans to work on the campaign to send Bills back to the capitol. When Bills announced his plans to seek a U.S. Senate seat, Wills took about a week to think before announcing her own campaign.

"I wanted to make sure that we kept a Republican in the seat," Wills said. "When I spoke with (Bills) about that, he was very encouraging and I decided to take a shot at it."

District GOP leaders are happy with their selections.

"I am excited for the voters in SD 57 to get to know Pat," said district chair Pat Staley. "He is dynamic and engaging. He has extensive and diverse experience as a businessman, pastor and community leader."

He had kind words for Wills, too, saying she had proved herself to the district's delegates.

The convention also passed a resolution thanking, congratulating and commending the retiring Gerlach.