Next year's U.S. Senate race in Minnesota has been off to a notably quiet start but new fundraising pleas have started blaring.
The candidates have not had major campaign events and so far national handicappers have not pinpointed the Minnesota race as one where the incumbent is threatened. More than a month after Republicans Jim Abeler and Mike McFadden announced their bids to take Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken down, the Rothenberg Political Report still lists the race as 'Currently Safe Democratic.'
But in the quest for cash, the candidates are banging the drums loudly.
"Somewhere in Washington, a right-wing operative is Photoshopping my picture for an attack ad. Somewhere in Texas, a billionaire is writing a check to pay for it. And all over the country, Tea Party Republicans have my name at the top of their 2014 target list," Franken said in an email earlier this month.
Franken has not been heavily targeted by any national group yet. But his 312-vote victory in 2009 and national reputation have made some conservatives hopeful that his name can help them fundraise.
Franken's campaign manager Matt Burgess and finance director Emily Mellencamp Smith have done some name-dropping of their own.
"This week on talk radio Karl Rove identified Al as a top target for defeat in 2014 -- talking about Minnesota as a state where he thought his side could win," Burgess emailed supporters last week.
"When I saw this email from Matt, a chill went up my spine -- because as Al’s finance director, I’m in charge of making sure our campaign is up to whatever challenges lie ahead," Mellencamp followed up. "And with Karl Rove (eying) Minnesota, my job just got a lot tougher."
Meanwhile, McFadden, a former executive at Lazard Middle Market, is issuing warnings of his own.
"We have raised over $700,000 so far but Franken already has $3 million in the bank and will spend all of it to attack me," he said in a fundraising appeal on Tuesday. So far Franken has not made any mention of McFadden in his own fundraising appeals and given little public notice of McFadden's existence.
McFadden also took a deep dig at Franken in his appeal for campaign cash.
"It feels as if Al Franken has been on vacation for the last four years, with Democrats and the left praising him for keeping his head down," McFadden said in the email. McFadden is also begun a rotation of Google ads, including one that invites viewers to "Chip in $5 to fire Franken."
Republican state Rep. Abeler has also offered himself up as an alternative to Franken but does not yet appear to have a heavy email or online fundraising presence.