State Rep. Jim Abeler said that he is exploring a run against Democrat U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

"Minnesota needs a Senator from Minnesota who has invested his life in the fabric of the people who make our state great," the Republican said in a statement. "That Senator must strongly protect our personal privacy and liberty, unlock the stifling stranglehold the federal government holds on Minnesota, and recapture the flexibility we need to run our own state. I know I can be that Senator."

Abeler is a long time state representative, who has specialized in human services issues, who has evinced a tender heart for the needy but a libertarian streak regarding government intrusion. Abeler, who supported a gas tax increase when then Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed it, endorsed Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul last year.

He is a chiropractor who hails from Anoka, which has an strong independent streak. 

So far, Republican business executive Mike McFadden has said he will vie against Franken and state Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said she is considering a run. 

McFadden said that he welcomes Abeler to the race, "but my focus remains drawing a distinction between myself and Sen. Al Franken."

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