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“The reality is it doesn’t matter which of the four come out,” Martin said. “I think the contrast is pretty stark between the governor and any of the four, and we’re eager to start drawing that contrast.”
While the governor’s race has remained muddled, the U.S. Senate contest has followed a more conventional path. Sitting comfortably as front-runner, McFadden largely steered clear of specific issues as he sought to instead to capitalize on anti-Washington sentiment by running as a political outsider.
McFadden may have suffered a self-inflicted wound last week, when in his support for the Keystone Pipeline he said he would opt for building it with Chinese steel over U.S. steel if the import was cheaper. That prompted tirades from union activists on an issue of sensitivity to Minnesota’s Iron Range; McFadden said he places a high value on being “cost competitive” on projects that use taxpayer money.
Abeler has run a classic underdog campaign, winning endorsements from the likes of former U.S. Sen. David Durenberger and former Republican Gov. Al Quie and emphasizing a legislative career that earned bipartisan respect. But his fundraising has lagged. That’s a major strike against him, for many Republicans are aware of Franken’s formidable fundraising operation.
In the Sixth District, former state Rep. Tom Emmer is trying for a comeback after his 2010 defeat at Dayton’s hands in the governor’s race. The Delano Republican is positioned as the likeliest Republican heir to the retiring Michele Bachmann, but faces a spirited challenge from Rhonda Sivarajah, an Anoka County commissioner. Whoever emerges will face DFLer Joe Perske, the mayor of Sartell.
In the First District, endorsed GOP candidate Aaron Miller, a military veteran and businessman from Byron, is getting a stiff challenge from Blue Earth businessman Jim Hagedorn, who has armed himself with a raft of legislative supporters. The winner faces U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, seeking his fifth term.
Martin said the party is already gearing up for the general election but is mindful of special contests such as Otto/Entenza. There, Martin has not been shy about pouring the party’s resources into protecting the incumbent, including door-knocking, direct mail and help with radio and TV ads. Entenza has countered, pumping more than $670,000 of his own money into his campaign.
Martin said he is confident Otto will prevail.
“We’re making sure that as we go into the fall election, we have a unified ticket with no distractions on the ballot,” he said.
Patrick Condon • 651-925-5049