Keith Ellison's GOP-backed challenger announced Monday that his campaign was bringing on former senator and fundraising heavyweight Rudy Boschwitz, a big-name boost to their uphill battle against one of Minnesota's most liberal members.

Joel Demos, a 33-year-old executive at TCF bank, has a long road ahead of him if he wants to unseat Ellison, but Boschwitz's support might improve his credibility in the eyes of donors and voters. Demos could use it -- he has yet to file any fundraising reports with the FEC.

Boschwitz, a Republican, represented Minnesota in the U.S. Senate from 1978 to 1991. He will join Demos' "campaign committee and finance committee."

In a statement, the former lawmaker acknowledged the challenges of electing a conservative in the typically liberal Fifth District district, adding that Demos' showing has further implications for the gubernatorial race.

“This will be an uphill battle to be sure, but 2010 is certainly the year when uphill battles have a real chance of winning,” said Boschwitz, also former chair of the Republican Senatorial Committee. “And if we have a strong showing in the 5th District - which is principally the City of Minneapolis - we enormously enhance the probability of keeping the Minnesota Governorship. That is crucial."

He added that the race is also important because Minnesota's congressional districts will be redrawn in 2011.

"The Demos Campaign simply should not be defeated by a lack of funds.”

Boschwitz was most recently in the news when his company, Home Valu, shut its doors this winter. Since leaving the Senate, he has fundraised prolifically for GOP candidates, including George W. Bush and John McCain.

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