Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Abby Simons

As Republican Senate candidate Mike McFadden was striding in to the Secretary of State's office to declare his candidacy on Tuesday, Republican rival Julianne Ortman was telling the media she had released her first television ad.

The two, joined by a crowded field of other Republicans, are jousting to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken this year. A win would give the GOP its first statewide victory since 2006 and would allow the party to oust a sitting Democrat for the first time in a generation.

In her ad, Ortman, a state senator from Chanhassen, says: "I'm a runner. I'm not fast. I'm not an athlete. But when I start, I finish." For Ortman, who campaign spent just $20,000 on the media buy, the finish line could come as soon as Friday.

She has vowed to honor the Republican Party's endorsement, which means she will drop out of the race if someone else nabs the nod at the state party's Rochester convention on Friday.

McFadden has said repeatedly that he is hoping for the party's nod but will primary if he does not get it.

"Being able to be down in Rochester in front of 2,200 Republican delegates is a great opportunity to just once again talk about our message and how we are going to beat Al Franken," he said. He said he had previously attended one state convention as an observer decades ago.

"I'm really excited about our chances," McFadden said fresh off of signing his name to on his filing for the office.  "I look forward to that election in November."

Meanwhile, state Rep. Jim Abeler, who is also vying in the senate race, released a list of legislative supporters over the weekend that includes veterans and newcomers alike. 

"In my nine campaigns, I have made only two promises to my constituents: to work hard and do my best, and to tell the truth.," Abeler said in the note about his supporters.

Six of the Republican Senate candidates also debated before a crowd of about 50 Chisago County Republicans last Friday at Stars & Strikes bowling alley in Wyoming. The candidates agreed on a number of issues. Among them, the Affordable Care Act and the economy are among the state’s most pressing issues and Minnesota’s greatest asset is its people.

Candidates also took a few swipes at one another.

St. Paul schoolteacher and Marine Corps veteran David Carlson, who reportedly is sitting out the convention, repeatedly referred to McFadden’s campaign as “McFadden Island,” suggesting it’s out of touch with reality. Ortman and Abeler also warned that Republicans will have to change tactics if they wish to successfully take on Franken.

“"We can't do the same things that Norm Coleman and Kurt Bills did in the last two elections and expect to win." Ortman said. Coleman narrowly lost his seat to Franken six years ago. Bills, then a one-term state House member, was drubbed in 2012 when he vied against Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Like Ortman, St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg and Washington County farmer Monti Moreno are abiding by the endorsement at this weekend’s state party convention in Rochester.

Here's Ortman's ad:

Runner from JulianneMN on Vimeo.

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