MN GOP picks McFadden as Franken opponent in midterms

posted at 4:01 pm on June 2, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Here in Minnesota, where we managed to elect Jesse Ventura as Governor and Al Franken to the US Senate within a decade of each other, the state Republican Party held its convention this past weekend. Minnesota has a caucus-plus-primary system, in which the two parties attempt to settle its nominations with convention endorsements for state-wide offices. Often, the fight continues through to a late-season primary, drawing resources away from the general-election campaign. Democrats hold all of the state-wide offices, including Franken as the incumbent Senator and Mark Dayton as Governor, so their nominations have long been settled.

Republicans batted .500 on those offices this weekend. The good news is that the state GOP united behind Mike McFadden as the challenger to Franken’s seat:

After flirting with an outsider candidate in St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, Republicans embraced McFadden’s promise of superior fundraising and organization. The battle between the two went into the pre-dawn hours Saturday and, after a break for sleep, continued until McFadden clinched delegates’ endorsement Saturday afternoon.

“I’m so honored to be your endorsed candidate for the United States Senate. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I humbly accept,” McFadden said, his voice flagging and his energy renewed. “I look forward to taking the fight to Al Franken.”

McFadden, who has raised nearly $3 million for the coming battle and promised more to come, was thought to be a long-shot to win party backing. Unlike Republicans who had won endorsement in years past, he has had little involvement in party politics and refused to drop out if delegates chose someone else.

McFadden convinced activists, sick of losing Minnesota races, that he could win in November.

“I am the candidate, undoubtedly, without an exception, to beat Al Franken,” McFadden said.

McFadden ended up with endorsements from both moderate Norm Coleman, who lost his Senate seat to Franken in a disputed recount in 2008, and conservative firebrand Michele Bachmann. McFadden has the money to self-fund if necessary, having considerable wealth to use in the race if he so chooses, but McFadden has also been successful at raising money, as the Strib’s Rachel Stassen-Berger notes. McFadden’s wealth will also be a prime target for Team Franken, although McFadden points out that Franken isn’t exactly poverty-stricken either:

McFadden has been taking pains to differentiate the work he’s done as co-CEO of Lazard Middle Market, from which he is now on leave, from the kind of private-equity deals that were used as ammunition against presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He has brought in a researcher who advised Romney’s campaign to help him address the issue of his business background.

McFadden’s firm is an investment bank that played an advisory role and did not get a stake in the small- to medium-sized companies it worked with nor did it make operational decisions, according to his campaign.

As for his personal wealth, McFadden has said that Franken also is wealthy and that high net worth shouldn’t disqualify someone from public office.

In August, McFadden reported he was worth at least $15 million and as much as $57 million. He earned $2.4 million in salary and bonuses from Lazard Middle Market between January 2012 and July 2013, according to a public financial disclosure report. He has given $5,200 to his campaign.

According to a financial disclosure report filed in May 2013, Franken has between $4 million and $12 million in assets. He gets a Senate salary of $174,000 and continues to earn money from books and from his work as a writer and performer in movies and TV.

As I said, the ability of McFadden to take aim exclusively this summer at Franken rather than get bogged down in a primary fight is good news for Minnesota Republicans. There hasn’t been much polling yet on this race, and none for almost two months. Franken led in an April poll from Suffolk over McFadden by 15 points, 44/29, but Obama’s ratings may still be a drag down the line in Minnesota for Franken, especially with all of the problems experienced in the state ObamaCare exchange MNSure. Franken has kept a low profile but hasn’t really led on anything either, and he only managed a 43/43 tie in the Obama MN landslide of 2008. It’s not going to be easy for McFadden, but it’s not Mission:Impossible either.

The bad news for the GOP? The food fight continues in the gubernatorial race, but that was already pre-ordained:

Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson beat out three other Republicans to capture his party’s endorsement for governor on Saturday. Now he must prepare to beat three more in the state’s first major contested GOP primary in two decades.

A mild-mannered attorney and veteran politician who promised he has the general election appeal to beat Gov. Mark Dayton in November, Johnson emerged victorious in a volatile contest that saw many delegates leave before it was over. …

One of the candidates Johnson beat out, former House Rep. Marty Seifert, is already planning for the Aug. 12 primary. Businessman Scott Honour and former House Speaker Kurt Zellers bypassed the endorsement altogether and also are working on their primary campaigns.

While some candidates were in Rochester wooing Republican delegates, Honour headed for Duluth on Saturday, to hold a news conference with new running mate, state Sen. Karen Housley, of St. Marys Point, not far from the convention center where Minnesota DFLers were giving their official backing to Dayton for a second term.

The Strib mentions that Dayton won after a recount too in 2010, but the circumstances were much different; the distance was 9,000 votes instead of 300, and the recount put no dent in the margin. Dayton will have the advantage over the next two months of taking shots against Johnson, or more likely, select his favored candidate by dropping bombs all summer on the other three.

Speaking of three, the one wild card in Minnesota has been significant bids by Independence Party candidates. They took enough votes in both the Franken and Dayton victories to change the outcome, although political analysts will spend the next century debating whether they actually did. (My take: Probably with Franken, who vastly underperformed Obama in 2008, and maybe so with Dayton, who beat the GOP wave that secured control of the legislature in 2010.) If the Independence Party fields candidates in these races, that could change the fortunes of both — and right now, that would appear to be more of a risk for Franken and Dayton.

Team McFadden has this introductory video on their campaign website. Stay tuned for more from Minnesota.

Update: “Disputed recall” was meant to be “disputed recount.” I’ve fixed it above, and thanks to Steven S for the heads-up.


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He earned $2.4 million in salary and bonuses from Lazard Middle Market between January 2012 and July 2013, according to a public financial disclosure report.

So it’s not the Lizard People voting in Minnesota, it’s Lazard People!

Rix on June 2, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Sarah Palin had endorsed Juliane Ortman. Hopefully McFadden is a strong conservative.

cat_owner on June 2, 2014 at 4:07 PM

WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So glad Ortman didn’t get it.

Scott Honour should win the primary for Governor. He’s out raising everybody in funds.

gophergirl on June 2, 2014 at 4:14 PM

From the comments:

This was an endorsement, not a nomination. Nomination comes from the primary.

Do primary votes not count in the Land of 10,000 Lakes?

Fallon on June 2, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Do primary votes not count in the Land of 10,000 Lakes?

Fallon on June 2, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Usually they honor the convention and there isn’t much of a race in the caucus/primary.

gophergirl on June 2, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Do primary votes not count in the Land of 10,000 Lakes?

Fallon on June 2, 2014 at 4:16 PM

He’s running unopposed, at least at the moment, which means he’s going to be the nominee. Even if someone files to be on the primary ballot in time now, they’re not going to get very far.

Ed Morrissey on June 2, 2014 at 4:24 PM

I was there for the Ventura escapade. It was funny, especially the press ID cards with “JACKAL” emblazoned on them.

BobMbx on June 2, 2014 at 4:25 PM

What is wrong with Minnesotans?

terryannonline on June 2, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Norm Coleman, who lost his Senate seat to Franken in a disputed recall in 2008

Recall? Do I remember things differently? I’m not from Minnesota but wasn’t that the general election where Frankenites kept manufacturing votes? A la Christine Gregoire? The same did was involved in both I think.

Judge_Dredd on June 2, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Even if someone files to be on the primary ballot in time now, they’re not going to get very far.

Ed Morrissey on June 2, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Okay, a quirky Minnesota thing. Here, in the Land of Lincoln, candidates file to get on the ballot first (stolen from Wiki: “A primary election is an election that narrows the field of candidates before an election for office”), and then duke it out for endorsements and the primary win.

Again, from the comments:

with all the money Mitch McConnell, Karl Rove and lobbyist Vin Weber raised

Sounds like… Oh, nevermind. I don’t really care. Franken has to go.

Fallon on June 2, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Minnesota doesn’t elect first-timer Republicans for state-wide office; a weak candidate was endorsed, and Franken is likely breathing a sigh of relief. Ortman would have been a much stronger choice.

Ricard on June 2, 2014 at 4:32 PM

I went to a Memorial Day picnic in Litchfield and was encouraged by the anti-Democrat Party sentiment so apparent from Millenials to survivors of the Greatest Generation.

Now, if only that can spread to Duluth and inside 494/694

Roy Rogers on June 2, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Sounds like… Oh, nevermind. I don’t really care. Franken has to go.

Fallon on June 2, 2014 at 4:32 PM

…last time we took “garden gnome” as a candidate…look what happened!

KOOLAID2 on June 2, 2014 at 4:36 PM

Here is a link to Mike McFadden’s campaign website:

http://www.mikemcfadden.com/

Check out Mike McFadden’s campaign website to see how you can help McFadden get Al Franken out of the U.S. Senate!

wren on June 2, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Recall? Do I remember things differently? I’m not from Minnesota but wasn’t that the general election where Frankenites kept manufacturing votes? A la Christine Gregoire? The same did was involved in both I think.
Judge_Dredd on June 2, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Yep. The Infamous Box 13 kept appearing and appearing and appearing…

And then there were the court cases…after seven months, Franken was allowed to go to DC.

Newtie and the Beauty on June 2, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Recall? Do I remember things differently? I’m not from Minnesota but wasn’t that the general election where Frankenites kept manufacturing votes? A la Christine Gregoire? The same did was involved in both I think.

Judge_Dredd on June 2, 2014 at 4:31 PM

The DFL is already planting trunkfuls of ballots downtown. We just make sure these cars get jacked!

Roy Rogers on June 2, 2014 at 4:40 PM

I hope to see some GOP ads on tv soon, as Franken is flooding us with his, making him out to be some kind of saint/savior.

lizzee on June 2, 2014 at 4:41 PM

…last time we took “garden gnome” as a candidate…look what happened!

KOOLAID2 on June 2, 2014 at 4:36 PM

LOL True. Ham Sandwich was doing pretty well, too, until Christie ate it.

Still, it’s ‘Sota…

Fallon on June 2, 2014 at 4:45 PM

It shouldn’t matter, but it does — if Honour wins the primary, the narrative is gonna be evil Republican plutocrats, especially with McFadden on the ballot as well. While Dayton and Franken are both plutocrats as well, they’ll be portrayed as the guardians of the people — the media here are uniformly hard left.

Jeff Johnson wasn’t my first pick, but he’s a good guy with a good record and he’d be far superior to Mark Dayton. He’s also personable and will be harder to demonize than the guys who are primarying him. I suspect he’ll prevail, although Honour has a lot of money and will be formidable because of that.

As for the IP, it looks like the governor candidate is going to a newcomer named Hannah Nicollet, who:

(a) looks somewhat like Zooey Deschanel;
(b) is a Ron Paul acolyte; and
(c) has a great last name for a Minnesota politician.

She’s almost the central casting candidate for drawing away a portion of the GOP electorate, especially since the Ron Paul acolytes are still smarting over the aftermath of their temporary takeover of the GOP apparat in 2012 — they were successful in getting their guy (Kurt Bills) on the top of the ticket, but they got crushed at the polls because Bills couldn’t raise any money. Since that didn’t last, they’ve decided to take over the IP, and they want revenge for what happened in 2012. The problem is that the subject of their revenge isn’t the DFL, it’s the GOP.

Mr. D on June 2, 2014 at 4:45 PM

“I am the candidate, undoubtedly, without an exception, to beat Al Franken,” McFadden said.

Ya, sure, you betcha.

sarc\

Bruno Strozek on June 2, 2014 at 4:47 PM

And then there were the court cases…after seven months, Franken was allowed to go to DC.

Newtie and the Beauty on June 2, 2014 at 4:38 PM

That was a head shaker. Why Coleman didn’t fight harder for the win is still a bit odd. At least, have the felon votes struck.

Fallon on June 2, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Mark Ritchie needs to go

Roy Rogers on June 2, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Hopefully this puts one more Senate seat in play for the GOP. If we can get them all in play, and defending Obama, we have a chance for a big Tuesday night in November.

Tater Salad on June 2, 2014 at 4:49 PM

It helps Democrats in Minnesota to have friends in low places:

Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is regarded as a “non-party friend” by the Communist Party USA

Roy Rogers on June 2, 2014 at 4:51 PM

McFadden ended up with endorsements from both moderate Norm Coleman, who lost his Senate seat to Franken in a disputed recount stolen election in 2008…

slickwillie2001 on June 2, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Mark Ritchie needs to go

Roy Rogers on June 2, 2014 at 4:48 PM

He’s not running again, so yeah he’s gone.

Probably doesn’t solve the problem, though:

“The name of the game is ballot access for all Minnesotans,’’ Steve Simon, center left, said. “That’s what we have to do going forward.”

So yeah, they will be recruiting more car trunks for this fall’s elections. Probably only trunks belonging to hybrid cars, though.

climbnjump on June 2, 2014 at 4:55 PM

I went to a Memorial Day picnic in Litchfield and was encouraged by the anti-Democrat Party sentiment so apparent from Millenials to survivors of the Greatest Generation.

Now, if only that can spread to Duluth and inside 494/694

Roy Rogers on June 2, 2014 at 4:35 PM

It’s not spreading to Duluth. Some of the people in the country outside of Duluth and south of the range where I live have come around, but from the top of the hill down to the shore it’s still as DFL as can be. They love their little leftist tyrant mayor and the city council is more “progressive” than it’s been in 15 years.

AScott on June 2, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Not sure it matters if the Dems find another comfortable margin of ballots in the trunk of a car.

SAMinVA on June 2, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Minnesota doesn’t elect first-timer Republicans for state-wide office; a weak candidate was endorsed, and Franken is likely breathing a sigh of relief. Ortman would have been a much stronger choice.

Ricard on June 2, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Palin’s endorsement alone would have killed her in Minnesota.

GOPRanknFile on June 2, 2014 at 4:59 PM

AScott on June 2, 2014 at 4:55 PM

I was hoping that weather a couple June’s ago would’ve washed some of that DFL stain away.

Roy Rogers on June 2, 2014 at 5:00 PM

So yeah, they will be recruiting more car trunks for this fall’s elections. Probably only trunks belonging to hybrid cars, though.

climbnjump on June 2, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Makes them easier to push!

Roy Rogers on June 2, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Not sure it matters if the Dems find another comfortable margin of ballots in the trunk of a car.

SAMinVA on June 2, 2014 at 4:58 PM

That’s the elephant in the room. I fear Florida may be more or less permanently lost on that issue as well. There’s probably a critical mass of precincts that will never be questioned re: “turnout” because racism!

Judge_Dredd on June 2, 2014 at 5:02 PM

McFadden has been taking pains to differentiate the work he’s done as co-CEO of Lazard Middle Market,

Lazard? That’s pretty close to lizard- the people whose found ballots in a Dem operative’s trunk put Franken over the top. Coincidence?

Seriously, it is pretty well documented that Al Franken did not win that election six years ago. Time for the illegitimate bastard to be booted from office.

Happy Nomad on June 2, 2014 at 5:11 PM

I’m heading out to MN on Friday. Your politicians are as wacked as ours in California.

Decoski on June 2, 2014 at 5:11 PM

That was a head shaker. Why Coleman didn’t fight harder for the win is still a bit odd. At least, have the felon votes struck.
Fallon on June 2, 2014 at 4:47 PM

He tried, Fallon, truly he did–but TPTB ruled for Franken at every turn.

Newtie and the Beauty on June 2, 2014 at 5:12 PM

Minnesota doesn’t elect first-timer Republicans for state-wide office; a weak candidate was endorsed, and Franken is likely breathing a sigh of relief. Ortman would have been a much stronger choice.

Ricard on June 2, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Palin’s endorsement alone would have killed her in Minnesota.

GOPRanknFile on June 2, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Less so than Bachmann’s endorsement (more despised as she’s local) would kill McFadden…which is to say, by your measure, he’s already dead.

Ricard on June 2, 2014 at 5:15 PM

If establishment bootlicker/propagandist Morrissey is for him, you know he stinks out loud.

iwasbornwithit on June 2, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Less so than Bachmann’s endorsement (more despised as she’s local) would kill McFadden…which is to say, by your measure, he’s already dead.

Ricard on June 2, 2014 at 5:15 PM

At least Bachmann was successful winning a district in her state. Palin is unpopular in Alaska, much less Minnesota.

GOPRanknFile on June 2, 2014 at 5:38 PM

McFadden has been taking pains to differentiate the work he’s done as co-CEO of Lazard Middle Market, from which he is now on leave, from the kind of private-equity deals that were used as ammunition against presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Unlike Coleman, McFadden will get the votes of the Lazard people.

Steve Z on June 2, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Probably a waste of time. There are some places where there is no such thing as an honest election and this state is one of them. Don’t waste your money unless you are willing to do something about election fraud.

crankyoldlady on June 2, 2014 at 5:51 PM

I was hoping that weather a couple June’s ago would’ve washed some of that DFL stain away.

Roy Rogers on June 2, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Most that got hit received a check from the government and/or a renewed faith in what a benevolent government agency can do for them and how “it takes a village” and a strong “communal spirit” to recover from hardship.

AScott on June 2, 2014 at 5:56 PM

At least Bachmann was successful winning a district in her state. Palin is unpopular in Alaska, much less Minnesota.

GOPRanknFile on June 2, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Nonsense. Palin still lives rent-free in your head, doesn’t she? Boo! :-D

*note to self * I gotta learn to ignore trolls.

Fallon on June 2, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Nonsense. Palin still lives rent-free in your head, doesn’t she? Boo! :-D

*note to self * I gotta learn to ignore trolls.

Fallon on June 2, 2014 at 6:04 PM

I actually have data to back up my assertions. You have…a hunch. Check out the latest poll from Alaska with Hillary against some named Republicans in a hypothetical matchup. Guess which Republican is the only one that Hillary beats in Alaska? Yup, Sarah Palin. Some people embrace reality. People like you, on the other hand, just scoff at it. To each his own.

*note to self* I gotta learn to ignore deluded losers.

GOPRanknFile on June 2, 2014 at 6:13 PM

What is wrong with Minnesotans?

terryannonline on June 2, 2014 at 4:28 PM

The place just went to pot after Bishop moved to North Dakota Iowa Wisconsin.

BigWyo on June 2, 2014 at 6:59 PM

Please stop saying Franken was elected. The evidence his overwhelming he stole the seat through fraud.

WannabeAnglican on June 2, 2014 at 7:03 PM

*is* overwhelming

WannabeAnglican on June 2, 2014 at 7:04 PM

What is wrong with Minnesotans?

terryannonline on June 2, 2014 at 4:28 PM

It’s a strange and surreal land, I’ve observed. I dated a girl from Minnesota so I got to see them in their natural habitat for a while. (The Mall of America) They are a curious lot who are capable of doing great things or screwing up royally and it would appear that there is little in between. Like their climate, hotter than the hinges of hell in the summer, stupid cold in the winter. Michelle Bachman or Jesse Ventura. Husker Du or Garrison Keillor, Fried Macaroni on a stick or lutefisk Eagle or Mosquito. Bob Dylan or Prince.. They have fantastic pub crawls, yet they are a people who are content to sit in a shack on a frozen lake and spend half the winter scratching their iceholes.

I could live 10 lifetimes and I would still be befuddled by Minnesotans.

V7_Sport on June 2, 2014 at 7:41 PM

McFadden has the money to self-fund if necessary

McFadden better be lining up semi trucks all across Minnesota full of uncounted ballots just waiting to be “discovered.”

RJL on June 2, 2014 at 7:51 PM

If establishment bootlicker/propagandist Morrissey is for him, you know he stinks out loud.

iwasbornwithit on June 2, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Along with spineless coleman, this guy should be a doozy. The Michelle Bachmann endorsement is confusing, as I recall coleman wasn’t much of a Bachmann supporter and ed threw her under the bus after the chris matthews attack while claiming she was his friend (which he claims of anyone he was ever in the same room with).

peacenprosperity on June 2, 2014 at 9:10 PM

Under “Issues” there’s no mention of immigration, so I presume he is pro-amnesty.

bw222 on June 2, 2014 at 9:49 PM

I’m heading out to MN on Friday. Your politicians are as wacked as ours in California.

Decoski on June 2, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Loons.

bw222 on June 2, 2014 at 9:52 PM

For those who might be interested in what took place over the weekend with all the nominations, funny business from some candidates, and other details, a local conservative radio show had a good recount this morning.

In hour one they talked about the events over the weekend, hour two was about the senate race specifically, including what happened with a few candidates that were expected to do much better but ended pretty bad, and on hour three it is all about the mess of the governor’s race.

Hour 1
http://www.twincitiesnewstalk.com/media/podcast-jack-and-ben-JackAndBen/up-at-em-060214-hr1-24842110/

Hour 2
http://www.twincitiesnewstalk.com/media/podcast-jack-and-ben-JackAndBen/up-at-em-060214-hr2-24842668/

Hour 3
http://www.twincitiesnewstalk.com/media/podcast-jack-and-ben-JackAndBen/up-at-em-060214-hr3-24843218/

ptcamn on June 2, 2014 at 10:29 PM

What is wrong with Minnesotans?
terryannonline on June 2, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Lutherans. Although the Mennonite stronghold where I grew up in SW Minnesota isn’t much better.

Nutstuyu on June 3, 2014 at 9:38 AM

What is wrong with Minnesotans?
terryannonline on June 2, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Minneapolistan is another. Can’t even walk through the Mall of America without tripping on someone’s burka.

Nutstuyu on June 3, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Sure we MN elect some strange ones and our caucus/primary system is probably the most unique in the nation (and that’s not good). In addition, we have very, very sloppy control over election ballots. So lots of opportunity to skew elections.

But – re: Franken – he only got 42% of the vote. Franken (41.99) Coleman (41.98) and Barkley, 15%+. So

Point – Franken is beatable. AND knowing that, Franken will mess up. You all are arguing over conservative issues. Forget those arguments. McFadden has six kids and is pro-life (with six kids, one would think so:-))

It will come down to $$ and campaign. Franken has millions, as does Dayton – the party of the RICH is DEMOCRAT.

There are a lot of other people who want Franken to go.

While McFadden is rich, Honour is VERY wealthy. Question is whether or not he can buy the primary. The election, another question.

MN J on June 3, 2014 at 6:39 PM

As I said, the ability of McFadden to take aim exclusively this summer at Franken rather than get bogged down in a primary fight is good news for Minnesota Republicans.

Not so fast…state rep Jim Abler is going to primary him.

Ricard on June 4, 2014 at 6:24 PM