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Continued: GOP battle over potential Franken challenger proves unpredictable

McFadden lives in the St. Paul suburb of Sunfish Lake and is on leave as CEO of investment banking firm Lazard Middle Market. He circulated campaign materials on the convention floor, noting his campaign has $1.85 million in the bank compared to $285,000 for the remaining candidates combined.

Franken has repeatedly proved himself to be one of the national Democratic Party’s most prolific fundraisers, and had nearly $6 million after the first three months of the year, the most recent reporting period.

While McFadden bashed politicians from both political parties, Ortman put an emphasis on her legislative service. The attorney and Chanhassen resident was elected to the state Senate in 2002, representing a Carver County-area district. She would have been the first woman ever endorsed by Republicans for either a U.S. Senate or governor’s race.

Sharing similar issues

While offering different styles, the candidates touched on similar issues that ranged from disdain for Washington politicians to support for gun ownership rights to anger at the size of the national debt and the ongoing scandal over poor treatment of patients at federal veterans hospitals.

With few major policy disagreements among the candidates, delegate Dennis Hogan of Edina said he was convinced by McFadden’s campaign apparatus. “I think Mike has the best chance of beating Al Franken,” Hogan said. 

Ben Golnik, a veteran Republican strategist, said Dahlberg’s surprise showing indicated a lack of excitement among delegates about the whole field. McFadden put off many by not honoring the endorsement, Golnik said, while Ortman tried to portray herself as more conservative than her state Senate voting record suggested.

Golnik, who said he is neutral in the Senate endorsing race, said that in Dahlberg, “I think people saw a genuine, down-to-earth, real guy.”

In addition to the Senate race, delegates on Friday quickly lined up candidates for other statewide offices. They endorsed state Sen. Scott Newman to run for attorney general, former state Rep. Dan Severson to run for secretary of state and former Long Lake mayor Randy Gilbert to run for state auditor.

The other main event at the convention comes Saturday, when the same delegates are tasked with endorsing a candidate for governor. The main contenders will be Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, former state Rep. Marty Seifert and state Sen. Dave Thompson. Two other prominent candidates, businessman Scott Honour and former House Speaker Kurt Zellers, are not seeking the endorsement and plan to head to the primary.
 

Staff writers Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Abby Simons contributed to this report.

Patrick Condon • 651-925-5049

  • Republicans make their picks

    Republican party delegates gathered in Rochester Friday to begin endorsing their 2014 candidates.

    Secretary of State: Former state Rep. Dan Severson

    Attorney General: Sen. Scott Newman, of Hutchinson

    State Auditor: Randy Gilbert, a compliance auditor and former Long Lake mayor

    U.S. Senate: Delegates were still balloting as this edition went to press. Contenders: Businessman Mike McFadden, state Sen. Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen, state Rep. Jim Abeler of Anoka, and St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, along with Monte Moreno and Philip Parrish.

    What’s next: GOP delegates are expected to endorse a gubernatorial candidate on Saturday. DFLers will meet Saturday in Duluth to endorse their slate, including Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

    Go to: Hot Dish Politics for the latest, at http://www.startribune.com/politics/blogs/hot_dish_politics.html and sign up for our daily newsletter, http://www.startribune.com/membercenter?

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