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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

McFadden Chances Improve? Maybe In The Wishful Thinking Category

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 07/24/14 22:34, Edited: 07/24/14 22:35

by Dave Mindeman

There seems to be an almost quiet desperation to make Mike McFadden a serious challenger to Al Franken for the Minnesota Senate. The investment banker has no experience - has stumbled badly on the issues , but has money to burn and has shown a willingness to spend it liberally (pardon the expression).

He is a familiar mixture of Norm Coleman and Mitt Romney, but without the political expertise. What has given him the opportunity to gain some notoriety was the inexplicable endorsement at the GOP convention. Whether it was good strategy or incredible luck, McFadden has emerged with the endorsement and has only token opposition for the GOP primary from grossly underfunded challengers.

Because of all that, it looks like the political handicappers have given him a second look and recent "experts" like Stu Rothenberg and Larry Sabato have upgraded McFadden's chances against Franken.

Even Sabato made the change almost apologetically....

One final rating shift that will leave many shaking their heads is in Minnesota, where we're changing the rating from Likely Democratic to just Leans Democratic. But hear us out: While polling doesn't really support such a move, history suggests this race won't be a cakewalk for Sen. Al Franken (D).

In other words, no data - just a hunch.

The reason that Franken's race is still on the radar is that most political followers who haven't been familiar with Franken's Senate career cannot believe that the guy who won by 312 votes could be anything other than vulnerable. And normally that would be a pretty safe bet.

But Franken has assimilated into the Senate very well. He is respected by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. He has eliminated the bawdy humor for which his entertainment career was famous....and replaced it with a dry sense of humor which he flashes only to make a political point.

Franken has been a prolific fundraiser and even with McFadden pouring his own money into the race, Franken continues to have the monetary edge. The junior MN Senator always seems to be one step ahead of McFadden on every front....organization, fundraising, commercials, and ground game.

In general, Franken's political strategy (and it is a good one) has not given McFadden a real opportunity to put the incumbent Senator on the defensive. McFadden's opportunistic endorsement gives him the ability to utilize what little the State GOP has to offer for ground help and not have to build it all himself, which I am sure he expected he would have to do. But Franken negates that opportunity with a superior organization of his own.

Another thing working in Franken's favor is that the Republican Senate Caucus has to concentrate on other races. Minnesota's seat is low on the priority list. The RSCC is having a fight in Georgia and Kentucky to hold onto incumbent seats and North Carolina and Arkansas are proving to be stubborn takeaways. Sending money to Minnesota may be a luxury they cannot afford. Meaning McFadden is probably on his own.

Al Franken's narrow win in 2008 has not been taken for granted by his campaign. They have prepared for battle and are looking for a somewhat better margin of victory this time around. The MN GOP has never quite gotten over that narrow and frustrating loss. They have been willing to give McFadden some leeway in conservative "principles" as long as he has shown a willingness to match Franken's bank account.

The GOP keeps looking for any semblance of silver linings in their quest to take back Norm Coleman's seat. But hard evidence of a McFadden upset is in short supply.

And Al Franken is taking nothing for granted.
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GOP MN US Senate - Ranking The Field

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 04/22/14 01:07, Edited: 04/22/14 01:08

by Dave Mindeman

Al Franken is up for election this year and there are a number of Republicans that want to take his job. Who will be the last person standing? Well, again, its fun to speculate. Here we go:

4. Rep. Jim Abeler - Abeler appears to have entered this race as a kind of alternative candidate. After all, he was a member of the Override Six and it would seem he thought he could appeal beyond the base. Unfortunately, he doesn't appear to appeal to any faction, and it looks like he will be the first casualty.

3. Commissioner Chris Dahlberg - Dahlberg kind of hangs around hoping that the two top tier candidates stumble. He has had some backing from media mogul Stanley Hubbard, but hasn't caught on with anybody else. He is treading water financially - his best shot is a credible showing at the convention. He is abiding by the endorsement because he really doesn't have much choice.

2. State Sen. Julianne Ortman - I used to think that Ortman was a very distant second, but I don't think that anymore. She has had a cash infusion of late and seems to be on track to win an easy endorsement at next month's convention. That would be a boost that will make her competitive in the primary. She has decent name recognition and is showing some willingness to do battle.

1. Mike McFadden - McFadden has been described as a Romney Clone. He is a financial analyst with virtually no political experience...and he has been doing a poor job of handling the press and outlining positions. So why is he still in first place? Just money. Lots of money. However, going forward he looks awfully vulnerable. Ortman is a much closer second than she was a month ago.


From my perspective, and granted, it is a biased one, Al Franken looks to be in pretty good position. These four candidates all have serious flaws that the Franken campaign will probably exploit. Still, a lot of outside money could come raining down if an opportunity presents itself.

So far, Franken's own fundraising has discouraged that influx.
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McFadden: "Specifics Are Not Important"

Category: Al Franken
Posted: 04/10/14 16:43, Edited: 04/10/14 16:44

by Dave Mindeman

The Republican establishment wants to defeat Sen. Al Franken badly. And those same establishment Republicans knew that the MN state party has been in horrible financial shape.

It has been clear that they feel the only real hope to compete for this seat in 2014 was to bring in a deep pockets financial guy to push through to the nomination.

Enter Mike McFadden....a rich guy, a willing GOP donor, but a political neophyte with a zero track record on policy. In a way, the establishment was hoping this would also be a plus, since anti-government sentiment is also very high in Republican base circles.

But, given all that, there is one slight oversight in getting what they needed.

They forgot about competence.

McFadden called a news conference today - a rare occurrence for the McFadden campaign - in order to trash the one Republican issue of 2014 - Obamacare.

Unfortunately, as often happens at a press conference, reporters started asking questions on other subjects.....

McFadden would not say whether Minnesota should have used the federal exchange rather than creating its own.

He also refused to say whether he would have voted to block debate in the U.S. Senate on pay equity for women.

McFadden also refused to give a yes or no answer on whether he supports what's called "personhood" legislation, which considers a fertilized egg to be a person from the moment of conception. Many of the other Republicans in the race say they support that.

McFadden also declined to weigh in on legislative efforts this week to increase Minnesota's minimum wage.

Some of the other Republicans in the Senate contest accuse McFadden of skirting issues. Asked about his refusal to get specific, McFadden suggested specifics are not important.

When you are at a press conference "refused to say" and "declined to answer" are not things you like to see in the report.

And when he explained his idea that "specifics are not important", he ended with this....

"What I think is really important with politicians and with leaders [is] you understand their overriding philosophies -- how do they make decisions?" said McFadden. "And so I've been very specific in this campaign as to how I make decisions."

So if I understand that correctly, we can rest assured that McFadden's overriding decision making philosophy on answering questions is to never actually give an answer.

Does the MN Republican establishment actually think that's a good thing?
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