While Minnesotans work to develop our local beer and craft spirit industries, an article in The Hill has Bluestem wondering what they're smoking in the Beltway.
In The Hill's Republicans look to oust Franken, staff writers Cameron Joseph and Molly Hooper report:
Franken will be a tough candidate — he’s worked hard to ingratiate himself in the state, and his poll numbers look fairly solid. But Republicans hope with the right candidate they can topple the first-term senator.
Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) and John Kline (R-Minn.) are two early mentions for the race.
“I'd put Congressmen Paulsen and Kline at the top of the list, they'd both be very strong candidates,” said Brian McClung, who served as former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s (R) deputy chief of staff.
Neither congressman would say for sure what his plans are.
Can you blame them? While the reporters are electing to go with the NRCC's verb choice of "ingratiate," those of us here on the ground in Minnesota know how hard Franken has worked to understand policy issues, often asking hard questions as he tours rural projects.
It's not ingratiating--it's refreshing to know that he's taking his job seriously, even as he retains his native wit.
Though it's buried, even the Republicans interviewed have to acknowledge the work ethic:
Franken could prove to be tough to beat, however. The former Saturday Night Live star has assiduously worked to establish himself as a workhorse rather than a show horse in the Senate since his narrow recount victory over Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.).
Franken has refused most interview requests from national media outlets and publicly tamped down his funny side while focusing on constituent services. Most recent polls show him in a fairly strong position for reelection in the Democratic-leaning state, with an approval rating around 50 percent.
“Sen. Franken loves his job representing Minnesota in the U.S. Senate, and looks forward to making his case to his constituents to serve them for another 6 years,” Franken spokesman Ed Shelleby told The Hill.
Minnesota Republicans acknowledge he’ll be difficult to defeat.
“He’s done a good job over the past four years of keeping his head down and not being the center of attention. That will pose some problems for us,” said Cullen Sheehan, a longtime Minnesota GOP operative who ran Coleman’s 2008 Senate campaign. . . .
Other names? The Hill article lists a couple of suggestions:
Coleman and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) have also been mentioned as possible candidates, though a few state Republicans speculated that if Coleman does decide to make another run for office he might be more likely to run for governor, the office he first ran for in 1998.
Multiple Republicans warned that a Bachmann campaign could be disastrous for them, since she’s popular with the base but not well liked statewide. The former presidential candidate and Tea Party favorite barely won reelection this year in the state’s most Republican district, and an October poll from the Democratic Public Policy Polling showed her favorability rating statewide at just 33 percent, with 55 holding unfavorable views of her.
Two other Republicans who are widely mentioned as a possible candidates are Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek (R) and former state Rep. Laura Brod (R), who’s on the University of Minnesota’s board of regents. Republican National Committeeman Jeff Johnson is also expected to make a statewide bid, though most think he’ll run for governor and not for Senate.
Bring on Johnson (who's already run for attorney general and failed) or Brod (whose championing of ALEC should make her an easy target).
Stanek, however, is Bluestem's favorite twit on the list, though he'll probably take a pass, just as he did against Klobuchar. In 2011, MPR reported in Who will run against Klobuchar?:
One person who may be considering a run in 2012 is Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. Stanek said, "no comment," when asked if he was thinking about running against Klobuchar. Several people close to Stanek tell me, however, that he doesn't want to take anything off the table at this point. They say Stanek is more interested in a run for governor in 2014. (Update: Stanek says he's not interested in running in 2012).
Stanek faced kitten competition in 2010 and apparently didn't get the joke.
Whomever the MNGOP throws up, 2014 looks to be bloggers' heaven, which may be why we're getting an early start in November 2012.