After a quiet month meeting people and raising money for his U.S. Senate race, Republican businessman Mike McFadden's political quest is taking on a more public face.
McFadden, an executive on leave from Lazard Middle Market, said the last month has been encouraging and “overwhelming at times.”
“I’ve never done this before so I didn’t know what to expect,” said McFadden, who said he elt called to action in the wake of the shared Republican frustration with the results of the 2012 election.
What he’s found is enough people willing to give him a shot that he’s raised $764,823 in four weeks, a figure substantial enough that he says confidentally that he will be competitive with Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken in fundraising. Franken, a master fundraiser, had raised nearly $3.3 million by this time in 2007 and has continued to draw cash at a fast clip. The freshman Democrat raised nearly $2 million in the last three months and has $3 million in the bank.
With the cash, McFadden said, he plans to run an “an honorable campaign where I’ve laid out who I am as a person…(and) talk about the issues and talking about those in an informed, substantive way.”
“I would like to be a part of a trend toward raising the level of discourse in this country and in this state,” he said.
Meeting with a reporter in a St. Paul coffee shop for half an hour on Tuesday, he laid out few hard and fast policy positions. Instead, he said he repeatedly that he will concentrate on a message of “effective but limited government” stressing the later part of that equation.
“We’ve done a really good job of talking about the limited government as Republicans. We now need to focus on the effective piece. Government needs to work better,” said McFadden, who has a resume that is long on business credentials and short on political ones.
Asked how limited government should be – drowned in bathtub? Slightly smaller than current? Would he close federal departments? -- McFadden demurred, “my focus is going to be on making things more effective.”
“Politics is the art of the possible not the art of the pure,” he said. “And I think what’s happened in Washington is we’ve had too much purity on both ends of the spectrum.”
On health care, McFadden repeated that ObamaCare, the oft-used moniker for the federal overhaul, may be a train wreck but added that he’s not confident that his party has found the answer.
“I am as frustrated with my party as I am with the Democrats from the standpoint of not participating in this conversation. We haven’t led on it,” he said.
He said he would like to see “market-based solutions that aren’t nationalized that are implemented on a state level” that addresses both health care costs and accessibility. But, he said didn’t yet know the details of that solution.
“You’ve got to give me a little bit more time. I do commit to you that it will be substantive,” he said.
On immigration, McFadden said it is clear that there must be a solution that involves securing the borders and suggested he was open to looking at some kind of path to citizenship, with conditions.
He spoke admiringly of the work Republican Sens. Bob Corker, of Tennessee, and John Hoeven, of North Dakota, on immigration.
“There is a group of senators that have led, taken a lot of arrows for leading, but they have led. They’ve come forward with a bill that is not perfect but they acknowledge that we have to address this,” he said.
McFadden is one of two Republican candidates vying for the chance to take on Franken. State Rep. Jim Abeler jumped into the Senate race last month.
"The Hopefuls" is an occasional series featuring candidates who are running for office in 2014.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that McFadden is a former Lazard Middle Market executive.