A lifelong resident of Minnesota, Michael Brodkorb is an experienced communications, social media, public affairs & research consultant and is an observer of all things political. He also blogs at politics.mn. He lives in Eagan with his family.

Franken vs. McFadden will kick-start a sleepy campaign season

Posted by: Michael Brodkorb under Politics Updated: July 7, 2014 - 3:20 PM

An election year in Minnesota is usually exciting. As an observer of all things political, I have found this election cycle to be one of the most lackluster I have ever experienced. For example last week, I watched a debate between the Republican candidates for governor three times and I found nothing other than a cure for insomnia.

Minnesota has a long history of vibrant, dynamic campaigns that have more ups and downs than a rollercoaster.

But so far, Minnesotans have been lulled to sleep with a campaign season that has less energy than an election for student council. I was elected to the student council in high school, so I know how such a contest can fly under the radar.

But for those politicos wishing for an exciting campaign in Minnesota, hope is on the way.

Until recently, Minnesota's U.S. Senate race has been very quiet. The expectation was that incumbent U.S. Senator Al Franken's re-election battle in 2014 would be a marquee race, since Franken was elected with just over 300 votes.  

But businessman Mike McFadden's unexpected endorsement for the U.S. Senate at the Republican Party of Minnesota's state convention in May has started to generate some buzz with the national media. 

Below is a summary of recent articles that mention Franken vs. McFadden as the race to watch in Minnesota:

National Journal: Franken vs. McFadden The "New Sleeper Race Of 2014," Says Democrats Conceding Race Will Be Closer Than People Expected. "Welcome to the new sleeper race of 2014. Investment banker Mike McFadden, who won the state party endorsement in May to effectively clear the GOP field, has the personal wealth to at least partially self-fund a campaign—a necessity for a contest otherwise off the radars of most national donors. Even as they remain resolutely confident of Al Franken's chances, Democrats are quietly conceding that this is a race that could end up closer than most people expect.” Source: "The Senate Seats Most Likely to Flip: Hotline's Race Rankings," National Journal, June 25, 2014

NBC: Franken vs. McFadden One Of "The 10 Most Overlooked Races of 2014" "The race bears watching because either 1) it becomes more competitive in the fall, which could signal a potential GOP tsunami come November; or 2) it doesn’t become competitive, which would be AMAZING considering that Sen. Al Franken won this race by about 300 votes in 2008 -- and that was after a months-long recount process. Franken most likely will take on businessman Mike McFadden in November." Source: "The 10 Most Overlooked Races of 2014," NBC News, July 2, 2014

Politico Says Franken vs. McFadden On "The Watch List."  "The Watch List There are three lower-tier races Republicans hope will become competitive if the climate is right, provided their first-time candidates raise enough money to keep pace with well-funded first-term senators: businessman Mike McFadden against Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby against Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie against Virginia Sen. Mark Warner." Source: “2014 Senate rankings: Map favors GOP," Politico, July 7, 2014

Roll Call: Both Parties Say Franken vs. McFadden Will Be A Close One. "Just months ago, many operatives predicted Franken would coast to re-election without a serious challenger. Both national and local media outlets noted several high profile Minnesota Republicans took a pass on the race. Now, multiple strategists from both parties predict a 2-point race by Labor Day. The shift is mostly due to McFadden’s surprise win at his party’s endorsement convention a month ago. His most serious primary challengers dropped out of the race after that — months before the Aug. 12 primary — making McFadden the de facto GOP nominee earlier than anticipated." Source: "Déjà Vu in Minnesota Senate Race?" Roll Call, July 7, 2014)

I'm not advocating for mud-throwing between the candidates, but rather an interesting campaign to watch. This election cycle in Minnesota has been rather tame, so regardless of which candidate you are supporting, let's all hope for a spirited contest. Boredom is very tiring.    

Picture source: Office of U.S. Senator Al Franken and Mike McFadden for U.S. Senate. 

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