An unfortunate thing is occurring in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota. Despite the party’s convention being 54 days away, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in Washington, D.C. is playing favorites and heavily assisting one of the candidates in the race as if Minnesotans have already made their decision.
It’s a bizarre thing for the NRSC to be doing because there’s a competitive campaign unfolding with many qualified candidates. In fact, as it now stands, the race is wide open.
A recent primary poll showed State Senator Julianne Ortman leading the field with 16 percent of the vote, followed by State Representative Jim Abeler and businessman Mike McFadden tied with 8 percent of the vote.
Similarly, a just-released general election poll showed ultra-liberal incumbent Al Franken well under 50 percent in potential match-ups with both Ortman and McFadden. The Star-Tribune reported the survey “found that Franken has a 3 percentage lead over Republican Julianne Ortman and a 6 percentage point lead over Republican Mike McFadden,” 44-41 and 44-38 respectively.
The only thing for certain at this juncture is that Franken is looking more and more vulnerable every day because of his laundry list of votes in favor of policies that have had a negative impact on Minnesota families.
This all being said, why in the world is the NRSC choosing McFadden over Ortman instead of letting the people of Minnesota decide who represents them in the U.S. Senate? Julianne Ortman is a wife, mother, and conservative who has been elected to the Minnesota Senate four times. She believes in individual liberty, limited government, and the sacred rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution. As the Chairman of the State Senate’s Tax Committee, she eliminated a $6 billion budget deficit without raising taxes. She has a rock-solid pro-life and 2nd Amendment record. The truth is there is very little not to like about this candidate, and it doesn’t take a genius to see she would give Al Franken fits in a general election match-up.
McFadden’s record appears to be shaky at best. He voiced support for the U.S. Senate-passed amnesty bill. He’s soft on the 2nd amendment and said he needed to “spend more time” studying a bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks.
I would go so far as to call him nothing more than Franken-lite. In politics, this is a recipe for disaster. Voters need a compelling reason to vote an incumbent out of office. Does McFadden’s record make the contrast necessary to inspire folks to turn out to vote? Hardly.
To make matters worse, McFadden is poised to ignore tradition and disregard his party’s endorsement at the state convention should he lose it to Ortman and thus create a divisive march to the August primary. This would be a dream come true for the damaged incumbent Franken. Ortman, on the other hand, will do the right thing and end her campaign if McFadden prevails at the convention. McFadden should rethink his flawed strategy and choose instead to honor the tradition and rally behind Ortman’s candidacy without delay should he lose the convention’s endorsement.
There was a time when the National Republican Senatorial Committee stayed out of non-incumbent party primaries and proudly supported whichever candidate emerged victorious. Now it appears the group is becoming more and more predisposed to meddling in primaries instead of letting voters decide first. Minnesota is only one example; the NRSC’s ongoing efforts in support of establishment darling Thom Tillis in North Carolina is another glaring instance of this wrongheaded practice.
This is not a wise direction in which to go. Washington party committees should not be involved in picking winners and losers in state primary campaigns – especially when they usually pick the wrong candidate for the wrong reasons. The establishment needs to take a step back and let the voters decide who they want to represent them in general elections.