WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Republicans have opened a campaign office along First Street in Willmar.
The party threw a grand opening event Saturday afternoon at the office, 1104 First St. S. which is next to the Prescription Center and just north of Walt's.
The office will be staffed by volunteers, according to Rollie Nissen, the county party co-chairman.
"This is a staging area of people to gather and exchange ideas," he said. "It also gives us a public visibility point."
Anyone interested in party lawn signs, bumper stickers and other materials and supplies can stop by the office, which formerly was a hair salon. The locals are waiting for presidential campaign signs bearing the names of John McCain and Sarah Palin to be printed, but expect the materials soon.
Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Willmar, is not up for election this year, but praised high visibility spot for the office and Palin's impact on the presidential campaign. The 44-year-old Alaska governor was named John McCain's running mate just before the RNC convention in St. Paul.
"What a terrific year to open a high visibility campaign office," Gimse said. "What a wonderful vice presidential candidate, who has totally turned things around."
Alysia Heidecker, the McCain campaign chair for Kandiyohi County, said party organizers have received a "great" response from the new location, noting that people were coming in asking for signs as they were working on moving materials into the building a week ago.
Nissen says Palin's selection has energized voters well beyond just the party faithful.
"Sarah Palin has energized everyone," he said. "Not only the Republican party, but Democrats and Independents also."
Also attending the event and rallying those gathered with Paul Anderson, the Republican candidate for the House 13B seat opened by Bud Heidgerken's retirement. Anderson is a farmer who lives between Glenwood and Starbuck and is a former Pope County Commissioner.
Anderson wants to improve the relationship between state and local governments to address regulations imposed on local governments that the state isn't paying for.
Bonnie Wilhelm, the Republican candidate for the House 13A seat, urged folks to get out and talk about the candidates, the issues and the party.
"I can't win by myself, Joe can't, Paul can't," she said. "We can't do it without your help. We can win, we do have the values and platform."
The office will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Hours may expand as the campaign continues, Nissen said.