ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Two Republicans jockeying for the U.S. Senate nomination against Democratic Sen. Al Franken demonstrated their differing paths Monday to getting campaign exposure as the primary election approaches in less than a month.
The favorite, businessman Mike McFadden, released his first broadcast television ad that will start airing statewide Tuesday. His main opponent, state Rep. Jim Abeler, touted an endorsement by former GOP Gov. Al Quie. The winner of their Aug. 12 primary will advance to a general election contest with Franken.
McFadden has the state Republican Party's endorsement and a substantial fundraising edge over Abeler.
The new TV ad features him coaching a youth football team with his campaign themes shown on screen as the squad runs drills. One of the pint-sized players says, "Washington is fumbling our future." The ad doesn't mention the Republican primary or Franken.
It ends with the candidate getting the wind knocked out of him as he gives the standard campaign "I approved this message" ad disclosure.
McFadden is set to spend more than $100,000 in the first week, according to publicly available TV station records and campaign advisers.
Abeler, a veteran lawmaker from Anoka, has highlighted his low-budget campaign as a "stark contrast to Washington's big money, powerful cronies and special interest groups." He is pitching himself as the experienced alternative to McFadden and held up Quie's backing as testament to that. Quie was Minnesota governor from 1979 to 1983.
Franken isn't waiting to deliver his re-election message until his Republican opponent is known. He's spent the last two months airing TV ads about legislation he's pursued in his first term. Some are testimonials from constituents while others have Franken discussing topics such as mental health in schools and Wall Street lending practices.
The Minnesota race has been overshadowed by other more-expensive contests around the country as Democrats try to retain their Senate majority. Republicans would need a net gain of six seats to take over.