Former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has endorsed GOP U.S. Senate candidate Julianne Ortman, who is running in a crowded field of Republicans angling to unseat Democratic Sen. Al Franken.
In a post on her Facebook page, Palin slammed Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" star and liberal radio host, calling his political career a "joke."
Palin also heaped praise on Ortman, a state senator from Chanhassen, calling her a "conservative champion."
"Let's make this proven conservative the one to take the fight to Al Franken this fall and make him the punch line. Julianne Ortman is the choice. She is good enough, she is smart enough, and doggone it, people like her!" Palin wrote.
Palin even took a shot at Mike McFadden, one of Ortman's Republican rivals. A host of current and former U.S. senators have shown support for McFadden's campaign, including former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, who lost his seat to Franken.
"[Ortman] is running a grass-roots campaign against a well-funded favorite of the Washington GOP establishment whose policy record is a blank slate," Palin wrote in a veiled reference to McFadden.
Responding to Palin's endorsement, Ortman wrote: "I've long admired Sarah Palin's courage, composure and conviction. So you can imagine how thrilled and grateful I was when she answered my request and decided to endorse me."
GOP moving forward on congressional picks
Minnesota Republicans are on their way to making their picks for congressional races.
On Saturday, state Sen. Torrey Westrom, Elbow Lake, landed local Republicans' endorsement in the Seventh Congressional District to go against longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson.
Many Republicans were considerably more excited about their chances to take the western Minnesota seat before Peterson announced two weeks ago that he would run for re-election. Without Peterson in the race, Republicans were thought to have a very strong chance of winning the GOP-leaning district.
Also Saturday, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen quickly won local Republicans' endorsement to run for another term. Paulsen is vying for a fourth term representing the suburban Third Congressional District.
"My top priorities will continue to be getting our country's fiscal house in order, creating a healthy economy, reforming a broken tax code and promoting policies that drive innovation," Paulsen said.
Republicans also took straw polls in at the Third Congressional District Convention.
Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, one of six Republican candidates running to oust DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, trounced the other competitors. He drew 67 percent of the vote.
In the U.S. Senate straw poll, Ortman, one of five candidates looking to replace Franken, bested the others. She garnered 40 percent of the delegates' vote.
Rachel E. Stassen-Berger