Chamber of Commerce to Endorse Al Franken’s Challenger

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 11: U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee December 11, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held the hearing on 'Continued Oversight of U.S. Government Surveillance Authorities.'
National Journal
Josh Kraushaar
July 30, 2014, 1:55 p.m.

The U.S Cham­ber of Com­merce will be en­dors­ing GOP busi­ness­man Mike Mc­Fad­den in the Min­nesota Sen­ate race, the latest sign Re­pub­lic­ans view Demo­crat­ic Sen. Al Franken as in­creas­ingly vul­ner­able.

“I’m honored to have their en­dorse­ment. They know Min­nesota is a state we can win,” Mc­Fad­den said in an in­ter­view about the pending en­dorse­ment.

The en­dorse­ment will be form­ally an­nounced by the cham­ber Monday at an event in Burn­s­ville, Minn. Mc­Fad­den has been in Wash­ing­ton meet­ing with of­fi­cials at the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee this week to dis­cuss the state of the cam­paign.

This year, the Cham­ber of Com­merce has been ag­gress­ive in back­ing favored can­did­ates, help­ing boost Sen. Thad Co­chran of Mis­sis­sippi and Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, among oth­ers, in con­tested primar­ies. They’ve spent over $17 mil­lion so far in Sen­ate and House con­tests, all to back pro-busi­ness Re­pub­lic­ans. They suffered their first set­back last week when Rep. Jack King­ston lost the Geor­gia Sen­ate run­off to busi­ness­man Dav­id Per­due.

The Min­nesota Sen­ate race is emer­ging as po­ten­tially com­pet­it­ive, des­pite re­ceiv­ing less at­ten­tion than oth­er battle­ground con­tests. This week, Uni­versity of Vir­gin­ia polit­ic­al ana­lyst Larry Sabato moved the Franken race in­to the “Leans Demo­crat­ic” cat­egory, call­ing it a po­ten­tial sleep­er con­test. Un­like oth­er tar­geted Demo­crat­ic sen­at­ors in 2014, Franken has main­tained a solidly lib­er­al vot­ing re­cord, rarely break­ing with Pres­id­ent Obama on high-pro­file is­sues.

In a very fa­vor­able Demo­crat­ic year, Franken won by 312 votes against former GOP Sen. Norm Cole­man in 2008—a race that ended in a pro­trac­ted post-elec­tion re­count. He’s kept a low pro­file in Con­gress since be­ing elec­ted, rarely grant­ing in­ter­views with na­tion­al me­dia.

Des­pite rais­ing an im­press­ive $14.2 mil­lion throughout the cycle, Franken has spent heav­ily throughout the year, leav­ing him with only $5 mil­lion in his cam­paign ac­count at the end of June. Mc­Fad­den, who locked up the GOP nom­in­a­tion in May, has banked $2 mil­lion.

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