State Sen. Julianne Ortman joins Republican race to challenge U.S. Sen. Al Franken

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 3, 2013 - 6:34 PM

Julianne Ortman has represented Carver County in the state Senate since 2002. She joins a hotly contested GOP primary race.

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Julianne Ortman

State Sen. Julianne Ortman said Saturday that she will run in the highly contested Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, hoping to unseat Democrat Al Franken next year.

Ortman, former head of the Senate Taxes Committee, represents District 47. An attorney and former deputy state Senate leader, she’s represented Carver County since 2002.

Also vying to run against Franken are Republicans Mike McFadden, a Sunfish Lake businessman, and Jim Abeler, an eight-term state representative from Anoka.

Minnesotans can’t wait another six years, or even another day, to “figure out what’s wrong in Washington,” Ortman said Saturday.

“We are on a road to constitutional crisis,” she said. “We have a dysfunctional and weak Congress that needs to engage in the checks and balances that we need to make government work.”

She also said she was ready to take over Franken’s seat.

“My leadership and experience in the state Senate prepares me to begin, ready to go, on Day One, without a transition period,” Ortman said.

“I also think that my experience learning about the economy on a national basis and working on our national economy really puts me in good stead for dealing with the most important issues facing Washington right now, which are economic and budgetary,” she said.

Franken has served as a U.S. senator since 2009, after defeating incumbent Norm Coleman by a few hundred votes in a recount.

Ortman contended that he has not provided strong oversight of confirmation and federal agencies.

“Franken has ducked out of the most important issues facing our nation,” she said.

Franken cast the deciding vote for “Obamacare” yet remained silent when the president delayed implementation of health care reform, Ortman said.

Friday, McFadden announced big-name backing for his run against Franken, saying that former U.S. Sens. Rod Grams and Coleman will serve as his honorary co-chairs. And last month, McFadden announced that he had raised $760,000 in his first few weeks in the race.

“Julianne is a good Minnesota Republican and a worthy opponent,” McFadden said Saturday as he welcomed her to the race.

Ken Martin, chair of the DFL Party, responded to Ortman’s announcement Saturday:

“It’s clear we’re going to see a long line of Republicans competing to see who will be more extreme in the contested primary for the U.S. Senate. Wall Street and big corporations are getting their wish in Julianne Ortman. Minnesotans won’t forget that it was Ortman who led the charge to cut property taxes for big corporations while raising property taxes for middle-class families.”

Ortman, however, said that as a state senator she “compiled a consistent record of standing with the people and against big government.”

Her next step, she said, will be working to earn delegate support for the GOP endorsement in May.

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