Franken going unchallenged in MN?

posted at 11:21 am on January 10, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, National Journal’s Michael Catalini gave a rather depressing look at the prospects so far for Republicans in Minnesota’s 2014 Senate race, when Al Franken will defend his seat for the first time — and so far, no one has volunteered to challenge him.  Norm Coleman, who lost the seat by 312 votes in 2008 after a months-long recount and challenge, has firmly declared himself uninterested in another election:

After winning election by the narrowest of margins in 2008, Sen. Al Franken looked like one of the GOP’s most inviting Senate targets in 2014.  But instead, the party is facing the reality that Franken is proving to be a much more resilient opponent than expected, and his uncontroversial first term is raising doubts about whether Republicans can even recruit a first-tier candidate against the former Saturday Night Live funnyman.

“You can’t play handball in an open field. At this point there’s been no candidate,” said former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman, who lost to Franken in the 2008 race. “He’s been pretty much invisible. In that sense he hasn’t created a lot of enemies. I don’t know if that’s his strategy, but it’s a pretty good strategy if it is.”

The list of potential, formidable candidates is short.  Coleman, in an interview with National Journal, categorically said he wasn’t going to run for the Senate in 2014, denying the GOP one of its best-known possible challengers. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a popular House member from the Twin Cities suburbs, telegraphed his own hesitance about jumping into the Senate race on a local radio show. Coleman touted Rep. John Kline, another swing-district Republican, but he has passed up previous statewide bids in favor of building up tenure in the House. And Rep. Michele Bachmann, who would be formidable in a primary, would be the Democrats’ dream challenger, given her high unfavorables even back home. She barely won re-election in a solidly-Republican House district in 2012.

What’s clear is that Minnesota Republicans are wary of jumping head first into the contest, despite the obvious opportunities against Franken.

In order to understand this, one has to understand the ground game of the state GOP, which has been a total disaster until recently.  The state organization more or less collapsed financially in 2011, after having succeeded in the midterms in taking control of the legislature but losing all the statewide constitutional offices.  In the 2012 cycle, Ron Paul followers won key offices in local party structures, many of whom have failed to engage much afterward.  The state GOP has worked hard over the past year to put its house in order, but it still has a lot of work to do to catch up to the DFL, and not too much time in which to do it.

Furthermore, the experience of running against Amy Klobuchar in 2012 will probably cool most potential Republican candidates from tossing their hats in the ring against Franken.  Klobuchar raised prodigious amounts of money and buried Kurt Bills by more than 2-1 in the general election.  That margin went far beyond Barack Obama’s support in the state, even though Klobuchar — like Franken — has kept a very low profile in Washington, mainly notable only for following Obama’s lead in the Senate.  Franken has succeeded in following Klobuchar’s strategy, and unlike Coleman, I am certain that it’s deliberate.

However, there are reasons to hope for a better outcome in 2014.  First, Obama won’t be on the ticket, although all of the state’s constitutional offices will be.  Second-term midterms tend to be tough on presidents, and unless hiring and economic activity pick up soon, that will almost certainly be the case for Obama.  Second, the more onerous provisions of ObamaCare will be in effect by that time, especially the medical-device taxes that will hammer Minnesota businesses.  Franken and Klobuchar have tried to reverse them, but they voted to impose them in the first place.  Hopefully by that time the state GOP will have righted their own organizational ship and can focus on producing better candidates and ground game efforts.

Still, unless Franken makes a fool out of himself, he’s going to have the advantage, especially against less-well-known Republicans.  The best chance for beating Franken in 2014 may be the last Republican to win a state-wide election in Minnesota — Tim Pawlenty.  He built the kind of national reach he’d need to match Franken’s fundraising (Frabnken already has $1.3 million COH), and Republicans will need to nationalize this race to make up for the shortcomings of the state Republican organization.  He’s also laying low at the moment, but that may be a deliberate strategy, too.


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Well, Ed…

… duty calls! Get your campaigning shoes on!

JohnGalt23 on January 10, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Oh WTF.

Red Cloud on January 10, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Draft Ed Morrissey?

forest on January 10, 2013 at 11:26 AM

T-Paw, your state needs you.

Red Cloud on January 10, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Any chance Pete Hegseth will run?

dforston on January 10, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Another masterstroke by the National Republican Senatorial Committee led by incompetent-in-charge Cornyn! Way to go, losers.

Bob in VA on January 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Franken stole the first election. After that the stealing just gets easier.

slickwillie2001 on January 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Sad state of affairs in MN if the best they can come up with if AF. There are already quite a few Rs in MT that have said they are going to race against Baucus. He may decide to retire leaving the way open for BSchweitzer to run for the senate unless BSs ego demands that he go for prezzy in ’16. It’s early so I’m sure the Rs will find a good candidate to go against a do nothing like AF.

Kissmygrits on January 10, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Un fracking believable.

This country is doomed.

rollthedice on January 10, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Is it something in the water up there? Cold winters? What?

Bmore on January 10, 2013 at 11:32 AM

The best chance for beating Franken in 2014 may be the last Republican to win a state-wide election in Minnesota — Tim Pawlenty.

Since he’s obviously not up for any position in a Romney Admnistration, why the hell not? It’s inexcusable that the GOP not offer up a credible challenge to Al Franken in 2014. Yes, Minnesota is a solidly blue state, but Republicans can win higher office there(the aforementioned T-Paw and Franken’s predecessor for example). Franken’s 2008 “victory” was suspect to say the least which one would think would energize the opposition. He’s a nasty piece of work, so negative ads could be successful in turning voters against him.

And last but certainly not least, he voted for Obamacare. I can somewhat excuse the 2012 GOP Senate candidates who failed to knock off Democrat incumbents who’d voted for that bill since the ugly stuff was strategically delayed til after the last election. But there’s no justification for losing these races now with premiums on the rise and taxes about to hammer businesses.

Doughboy on January 10, 2013 at 11:35 AM

This is the opening the lizard people have been looking for.

Happy Nomad on January 10, 2013 at 11:37 AM

If Republicans want to win it, run on diversity of representation and the fact that there are two Jewish senators in MN. Franken thought he was entitled to the “Jewish seat” back when he ran, but I think it’s time for a “Christian seat” or “Scandinavian seat”. There are about a dozen Jews living in Minnesota and half of them have been senator. It’s ridiculous.

Buddahpundit on January 10, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Franken stole the election. What’s the point in running against someone who can control the outcome no matter what you do?

The Rogue Tomato on January 10, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Still, unless Franken makes a fool out of himself, he’s going to have the advantage, especially against less-well-known Republicans.

What’s the standard by which we make that judgement?

SAZMD on January 10, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Instead of looking at retread politicians, why not find yourselves a competent, accomplished citizen?

trigon on January 10, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Another example of why the GOP is useless. Same happens here in Illinois. Our Stupid Party doesn’t even bother to run anyone for half the offices in the state.

Warner Todd Huston on January 10, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Worese, even when people volunteer to run, the Illinois GOP says “no.”

Warner Todd Huston on January 10, 2013 at 11:42 AM

… Franken — has kept a very low profile in Washington, mainly notable only for following Obama’s lead in the Senate …

.
This by itself is ammunition: What has Sen. Smalley done, vote “Present”? Who does Sen. Smalley represent, MInnesota, or BO?
.

… unless Franken makes a fool out of himself, he’s going to have the advantage …

.
Sen. Smalley has no record to run on, other than voting “Obama”. How well does he know the issues? How does he explain the Senate’s failure to pass a budget for over 1300 days, and in violation of US law? Is Sen. Smalley okay with … unlimited … spending? Is it necessary? Where do we get the money to pay off this debt?
.
Force Sen. Smalley to face a campaign about these and other issues. Avoid Media moderators in any debate, and force him to have to field questions from Bloggers … see what happens.
.
Watch for inept and uninformed responses … and anger. See how much of a fool he makes of himself.

Arbalest on January 10, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Pawlenty will run. Hegeseth is another good option.

gophergirl on January 10, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Franken going unchallenged in MN?

…but the Democrats have already begun storing ballots in the boots of their cars just in case.

Resist We Much on January 10, 2013 at 11:44 AM

how can this be?

Franken has to be the most Challenged senator I have ever witnessed

WryTrvllr on January 10, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Ed Morrissey, you have every right to expect 90+% of the tea party votes and 90+% of the GOP votes. It doesn’t matter if the Dems try to steal the election when every rally you would hold is attended by thousands of excited and passionate supporters.

You wouldn’t even need Sarah’s help.

platypus on January 10, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Maybe the nation is just too divided to stay together. I really can’t stand this c&@p.

I was wondering on the Ron Paul positions if that is why Republican establishment nationwide has sought to shore up the local GOP positions to be determined in upcoming elections. I know in my state, the R party is very much trying to dictate who wins all R elections.

I really have no issues with what sounds from this blog post lazy whiners not winning, but as an “outsider” who has volunteered for my R party, I don’t really like the idea of playing in a rigged game. I am not running for any kind of seat as I have to travel with my job, but the GOP hasn’t done much I like and shutting out others isn’t going to change my opinion for the better.

earlgrey133 on January 10, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Doesn’t Mitt Romney own a house in Minnesota?

portlandon on January 10, 2013 at 11:45 AM

If this fool can’t be defeated in 2014… it’s not going to bode well for 2016.

Ukiah on January 10, 2013 at 11:46 AM

How pathetic! Is MN trying to become IL?

stukinIL4now on January 10, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Franken has succeeded in following Klobuchar’s strategy, and unlike Coleman, I am certain that it’s deliberate.

One part of Klobuchar’s “strategy” that Franken can’t follow: 100% adulation from the press. We’re not talking the normal, left leaning BS. We’re talking glowing articles and pictures and news segments adorning the Star Trib and local news.

Sure, the press likes Franken, but they would commit seppuku in order to defend Klobuchar.

strictnein on January 10, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Spend some money exposing that disgusting prick Mark Ritchie as a George Soros crony, and tie Franken to him. Minnesotans appear to willing to be led by a clown, but I doubt their complacence will go as far as to be led by a foreign clown.

Archivarix on January 10, 2013 at 11:51 AM

The best chance for beating Franken in 2014 may be the last Republican to win a state-wide election in Minnesota — Tim Pawlenty

That is exactly who came to my mind as soon as I started reading the article. He’s the logical choice and not just because he’s the last Republican to win statewide election.

In the 2012 cycle, Ron Paul followers won key offices in local party structures, many of whom have failed to engage much afterward.

Many of the “Ron Paul followers” are mainly interested in damaging the Republican party. So getting elected to offices and then doing nothing would be consistent with that goal. Many of them are even “Occupy” types. Their primary goal is disrupting the Republican Party and getting Democrats elected as is the goal of many people on blogs and in social media pretending to be “true conservatives”.

crosspatch on January 10, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Spend some money exposing that disgusting creep Mark Ritchie as a George Soros crony, and tie Franken to him. Minnesotans appear to willing to be led by a clown, but I doubt their complacence will go as far as to be led by a foreign clown.

Archivarix on January 10, 2013 at 11:52 AM

If Republicans want to win it, run on diversity of representation and the fact that there are two Jewish senators in MN.

According to her bio, Senator Klobuchar is not Jewish. Congregationalist.

matthew8787 on January 10, 2013 at 11:52 AM

“You can’t play handball in an open field.

The new GOP motto.

Pathetic.

Tim_CA on January 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Most analysts believe that if Pawlenty runs in 2014, it will be for Governor again (no constitutional restriction on # terms) and not for US Senate.

I wish Pawlenty would run for either office, but my guess is that he won’t run for either — wants to make some real money.

matthew8787 on January 10, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Maybe we can get Tim Pawlenty to give it a go, he’s from Minnesota and won state wide elections in the past.

Flyovercountry on January 10, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Franken stole the first election. After that the stealing just gets easier.

I have doubts that Franken personally stole the election, I’m not sure he’s smart enough for putting together and carrying out such a scheme. But people in his party are. And that party is quite experienced in stealing elections all over the nation, and with the LSM, local and state courts and bureaucrats abetting the stealing, and members of the winning candidate pleased regardless of how the win was accomplished, yup, it really does just get easier.

hawkeye54 on January 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM

If Republicans want to win it, run on diversity of representation and the fact that there are two Jewish senators in MN. Franken thought he was entitled to the “Jewish seat” back when he ran, but I think it’s time for a “Christian seat” or “Scandinavian seat”. There are about a dozen Jews living in Minnesota and half of them have been senator. It’s ridiculous.

Buddahpundit on January 10, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Klobuchar’s a Congregationalist.

steebo77 on January 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM

If Republicans want to win it, run on diversity of representation and the fact that there are two Jewish senators in MN. Franken thought he was entitled to the “Jewish seat” back when he ran, but I think it’s time for a “Christian seat” or “Scandinavian seat”. There are about a dozen Jews living in Minnesota and half of them have been senator. It’s ridiculous.

Buddahpundit on January 10, 2013 at 11:37 AM

I can see the slogans now: Boot the Jew! Minnesota Christians Against Disproportionate Representation by Jews! One Jew is More Than Enough!

Don’t look now, but your true colors are showing and it’s not pretty.

cam2 on January 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Pawlenty is making over a million dollars a year in his new job as head of the Financial Services Roundtable. And he can forget about being at all effective in that job if Democrats in DC think he might be planning a Senate run.

rockmom on January 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Better strategy: Support mass exodus of Minnesota and California GOP to Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

DeathtotheSwiss on January 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Ok ok, I’ll run.

Violent Amish Guy 2014

Bishop on January 10, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Franken stole the election. What’s the point in running against someone who can control the outcome no matter what you do?

The Rogue Tomato on January 10, 2013 at 11:38 AM

What Rogue said … whom I find is constantly stealing my thunder. ;-)

ShainS on January 10, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Better strategy: Support mass exodus of Minnesota and California GOP to Florida, Ohio and Virginia.

Not a bad strategy, but my wife refuses to relocate from CA to any of those states. Colorado, southern Oregon, or possibly, Iowa ( I have family and roots there), period. I’m trying to warm her to the possibility of Texas, but she isn’t going for it.

hawkeye54 on January 10, 2013 at 12:06 PM

I have doubts that Franken personally stole the election, I’m not sure he’s smart enough for putting together and carrying out such a scheme. But people in his party are.
hawkeye54 on January 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Harry Reid isn’t smart enough to steel the election either, but as you point out, there are other people working for him and other morons in the Democrat party.

LoganSix on January 10, 2013 at 12:08 PM

When “our” side can’t pounce on incredibly bubble headed comments like

The $16 trillion national debt could be reduced by about $4 trillion in the first few months of 2013 with just a few steps

Why bother running anybody? It’s not like any part of the brain of the particular JournoTard at WCCO, KSTP, KMSP, the Associated Press (all places I read that quote)

or even Hot Air or Powerline for that matter

thought anything out of the ordinary with such a ridiculous statement.

I ask again…why bother?

MNHawk on January 10, 2013 at 12:09 PM

I’m referring to Klobuchar, by the way.

MNHawk on January 10, 2013 at 12:10 PM

We are talking about a Republican winning in the only state that did not vote for Reagan in 1984.. yeah, i am sure this is a great chance for a pick up…

Second, the more onerous provisions of ObamaCare will be in effect by that time, especially the medical-device taxes that will hammer Minnesota businesses. Franken and Klobuchar have tried to reverse them, but they voted to impose them in the first place.
These people elected and re-elected Obama…. if they are dumb enough to do that, they can be counted on to do dumber things

nagee76 on January 10, 2013 at 12:12 PM

This is exactly what was published in the Brainerd Dispatch

Sanity, rather than partisan bickering is being uttered from someone in Washington, D.C. Yes, Washington, D.C.

Minnesota’s Sen. Amy Klobuchar is guilty of making sense in a town that is full of political clowns.

In an interview that was published by the Associated Press, Klobuchar said, “The $16 trillion national debt could be reduced by about $4 trillion in the first few months of 2013 with just a few steps,” Klobuchar said. She would let Bush-era tax cuts lapse on yearly income above $250,000 and cut federal spending by about $2 trillion on top of $1.2 trillion in planned cuts that were part of a 2011 package approved by Congress.”

No one. Not Keith Hansen, the JournoMoron in Brainerd who wrote this bit of math challenge drek, nor Ed Morrisey thought anything odd with this statement. I ask again, if “my side” can’t make hay out of obviously bogus statements, why bother? Safe is promising $4 trillion in debt reduction in 3 months?

MNHawk on January 10, 2013 at 12:15 PM

HA! Franken is a joke and only an incompetent dead party like the GOP would allow him to go unopposed for reelection after he stole the seat through vote fraud.

Im not sure how many disgraceful failures its going to take to wake open minded people up. The Republican party in its present form is more Whig than it is Reagan. We need to start thinking outside the box or soon the Senate will be 65 Al Frankens and Elizabeth Warrens.

I find it hilarious, that the second we are under a little pressure, people go screaming back to losers like Tim Pawlenty.

And people wonder why a lot of us have given up on the GOP.

If i have to watch one more mushy “electable” moderate, get stomped by a bottom of the barrel Democratic tool…..

alecj on January 10, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Instead of looking at retread politicians, why not find yourselves a competent, accomplished citizen?

The way the media works over any candidate opposing a dem, that citizen has to be squeaky clean, sharp as a tack, nerves of steel and loins girded for brutal political combat.

hawkeye54 on January 10, 2013 at 12:19 PM

….SERIOUSLY – THERE IS NO ONE IN MN MORE QUALIFIED /BETTER TO REPRESENT THE PEOPLE OF MN THAN AL FRANKEN?! Doesn’t say a whole lot about MN, does it?!

easyt65 on January 10, 2013 at 12:24 PM

I think TPaw has already said he’s not running. We are screwed.

cdog0613 on January 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM

Franken going unchallenged in MN?

BISHOP!!!!!!!!!!

ToddPA on January 10, 2013 at 12:34 PM

THERE IS NO ONE IN MN MORE QUALIFIED /BETTER TO REPRESENT THE PEOPLE OF MN THAN AL FRANKEN?! Doesn’t say a whole lot about MN, does it?!

Oh, I’m sure there is, its just that so few want themselves and their family subjected to the media shark attacks, personal threats to life and limb, and the complete political and public anal exam that would come from a campaign opposing Franken.

hawkeye54 on January 10, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Does anyone find this surprising?

The Senate GOP are more interested in fielding establishment candidates to counteract potential conservative candidates than in removing Dem Senators.

They would rather lose to a Democrat than to a conservative canidate any day any time.

TheRightMan on January 10, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Even if the GOP wins the seat, the Democrats get to recount the vote until Franken wins.

JellyToast on January 10, 2013 at 1:02 PM

why on earth doesn’t TPaw run?

What exactly is he doing? Raking in money as a lobbyist?

He’s young and this would be an obvious way to get back in the national spotlight. Serve a few good years in the Senate and be a player again in 2020 or 2024

It’s almost selfish for men of the caliber of COleman or Pawlenty not to run and let this fraudulent idiot waltz his way to re-election, after he stole his seat in the first place

thurman on January 10, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Franken may technically end up with a Republican challenger, but will be unchallenged in fact. As has been noted here, the Democrats will create enough false votes to win, no matter what. And the Republican reply will be; “Thank you Sir! May I please have another?

The other point is that the Institutional Republicans have made it clear with the purges of Conservatives in Congress and the moves by the RNC to prevent Conservatives from winning nominations and campaigning against them if they do [see your own post http://hotair.com/archives/2013/01/08/moderate-republican-group-dropping-republican-from-name/ ] that defeating Democrats is far lower on their list of priorities than crushing Conservatives.

Good luck with that.

Subotai Bahadur on January 10, 2013 at 1:15 PM

I’d suggest Dave Thompson. A clear communicator and formidable intellect who can stay on message and doesn’t get ruffled.

Mr. D on January 10, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Slight tweek.

Ok ok, I’ll run.

Well Armed Violent Amish Guy 2014

Bishop on January 10, 2013 at 12:01 PM

There, that will have them jumping in the boat.

Bmore on January 10, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Unless you can stop voter fraud in Minnesota, you’re wasting your time. Coleman was robbed by a semi-illiterate comedian and nothing has changed. When stealing elections like what happened in Minnesota is that obvious, even Franken doesn’t have to run to stay in office.

volsense on January 10, 2013 at 1:32 PM

If Franken can go unchallenged the Republican Party is dead. The guy steals an election and the Republicans aren’t mad enough to put someone out to beat him this time around?

bflat879 on January 10, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Thompson is good. I’d support Pawlenty. I’d LOVE to see Jason Lewis run.

Othniel on January 10, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Morrissey 2014!

vegconservative on January 10, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Jason Lewis?

infidel on January 10, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Pawlenty now has a nice, well-paying job for a banking organization. Life is good. Why would he want to jump back in the mud pit? Answer: He won’t.

Sugar Land on January 10, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Morrissey 2014!

vegconservative on January 10, 2013 at 1:41 PM

No thanks.

I’m done with GOP establishment mouthpieces.

Tim_CA on January 10, 2013 at 2:24 PM

Tim Pawlenty bails on Romney to go suck millions off a system he helped create.

Just…no….

MNHawk on January 10, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Does it matter? Ballots that say “Republican” in Minnesota are disqualified by the board of elections anyway.

CrustyB on January 10, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Jason Lewis: Libertarian/conservative MN talker. Great, but could he afford to be off the air for the time he’d have to be off for a campaign?
How about Ed Morrissey? John Hinderaker (PowerLine)? King Banaian? There are any number of non-politicians who’d be quite good as Senators.
First choice: Draft Captain Ed!

either orr on January 10, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Pawlenty will run. Hegeseth gophergirl is another good option.

Professor_Chaos on January 10, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Why run against some fuckwad who will steal the election anyway ?? He did it once, we all know he will do it again! Congrats in advance Stuart Smalley you fuckin’ scrotum!

cableguy615 on January 10, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Don’t look now, but your true colors are showing and it’s not pretty.

cam2 on January 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM

I’m not the one who called it “the Jewish seat”. Representative government is a good thing, and I think Minnesota is ready for one senator who isn’t Jewish. Is it your theory that a state is anti-Jewish if it doesn’t have a complete monopoly of msm connected Jewish liberal senators?

Buddahpundit on January 10, 2013 at 9:30 PM

…the comedy continues!

KOOLAID2 on January 11, 2013 at 12:08 AM