Senate candidates hope for recognition today
ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS
Here are the major party candidates for U.S. Senator that will be considered at today’s caucuses:
The nationally known satirist and St. Louis Park product barely squeaked into the Senate six years ago, winning by 312 votes after an eight-month recount. But during his first term in office, he has downplayed his career as a “Saturday Night Live” comic, best-selling author and liberal talk radio host to establish himself as a serious policy workhorse. Franken wrote a key cost-saving provision in the Affordable Care Act, promoted renewable energy legislation and pushed to prevent new technology from invading individuals’ privacy. The National Journal ranked his voting record the third-most liberal in 2012. A prolific fundraiser, he started this year with $4.8 million in his campaign treasury, far more than all six of his Republican challengers combined.
A chiropractor from Anoka, Abeler, 59, has specialized in health care issues during his eight terms in the Minnesota House. He’s hard to pin down ideologically. In 2008, he was one of the “override six” Republicans who voted to reverse Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s veto of a gas tax increase, and two years later he was endorsed by the Education Minnesota teachers union. But in 2012, Abeler endorsed libertarian Republican Ron Paul for president. As chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee in 2011, he led the charge to trim $1 billion from health and social service programs. Since entering the race in June, he has campaigned in every Senate district in the state, but he finished a distant fifth in the October GOP straw poll.
A St. Louis County commissioner and Duluth attorney, Dahlberg, 52, recently retired from the U.S. Army Reserve after serving 25 years, including a tour of duty in Iraq. He says he’s a fiscally conservative Republican who has proven he can appeal to independents and Democrats by winning elections to the nonpartisan county board and Duluth City Council. After announcing his candidacy Sept. 26, he raised $103,000 in the last three months of 2013 and came in fourth in the October GOP straw poll. To make up for his lack of name recognition outside the Duluth area, he has crisscrossed the state in recent months to meet and greet Republican activists.
He’s a wealthy businessman with no previous political experience, but McFadden, 49, knows how to build a campaign war chest. He has raised $2.2 million since entering the race in May and had $1.7 million in the bank on Dec. 31 — far more than all his Republican rivals combined. He’s on leave from his job as co-CEO of Lazard Middle Market, a company that advises businesses on mergers and acquisitions, restructuring and other financial transactions. He has said he’s running because he and his family have been successful, and he feels a responsibility to give back to his community.
A bison farmer and former hair salon owner from Marine on St. Croix, Moreno, 53, is making another run for the endorsement he sought in 1996, when the party deadlocked over a candidate. Former Sen. Rudy Boschwitz eventually won the GOP primary but lost to DFL Sen. Paul Wellstone. Moreno advocates cutting federal spending and reducing the national debt. He finished last in the October GOP straw poll.
The state senator and attorney from Chanhassen is the most experienced campaigner in the Republican U.S. Senate race. Ortman, 51, has won eight consecutive primary and general elections since 2000, first earning a term on the Carver County Board, followed by three terms in the state Senate. She was the first woman to chair the Senate Tax Committee, where she played a key role in erasing a $5 billion deficit in 2011 without raising taxes. She also was deputy Senate majority leader in 2012. Ortman won the October GOP straw poll for U.S. senator.
A retired U.S. Army chaplain and Vietnam War veteran, Shudlick, 71, of Apple Valley, is making his third run for the Senate. He finished last in the 2006 Republican primary, with 4 percent of the votes, and at the 2012 state GOP convention, he pla ced fourth in the balloting for the U.S. Senate endorsement, with 2 percent of the votes. He announced his current candidacy just before the October GOP straw poll but nonetheless finished third in the balloting.
Nobles County Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party members are invited to precinct caucuses at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Worthington Senior High School, 1211 Clary St., Worthington; while the GOP party will caucus at 7 p.m. at Prairie Elementary, 1700 First Ave. SW, Worthington.
Precinct caucuses are a way for people to meet their neighbors and discuss issues important to their community. The caucus serves as the unofficial start to the 2014 election season.
During the GOP caucus, attendees may cast a preference ballot, vote for precinct officers, vote for delegates, sign up to be an election judge and discuss changes in the platform.
Those new to the precinct caucus process may watch a video, “What To Expect at a Precinct Caucus” at www.dfl.org under “Find your District.”