Monti Moreno enters Senate race, without musket

As he announced his U.S. Senate  campaign,  Monti Moreno decried energy costs and unemployment.

Monti Moreno (Mark Zdechlik/ MPR News)

"America is  still the land of the free,” Moreno said standing before several supporters gathered at park on the west side of St. Paul. “It is the home of the brave and I believe a candidacy of Monti Moreno running with the Republican Party will help change America back to what the founding father's original  intent was -- restore  your freedoms, restore your liberties and not destroy our country and not destroy our jobs."

A bison farmer and former hair salon owner, Moreno is the fifth Republican to announce a campaign against Democratic Sen. Al Franken.  The 52-year-old from Marine on St. Croix joins state Sen. Julianne Ortman of Chanhassen,  state Rep. Jim Abeler of Anoka, St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg of Duluth and businessman Mike McFadden of Sunfish Lake in the race.

At tonight's news conference Moreno was much less animated than he was at the 1996 Republican state convention.  He was seeking the party endorsement to run against then U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone.  Moreno took to the podium wielding a musket to emphasize his opposition to gun control.

"You see if you can't do it by ballot, you've got to do it by bullets,” shouted Moreno. “Do you think these guys who wrote this Constitution and the Bill of Rights wrote it so they could go deer hunting? Do you think they did it so they could go duck hunting, man? They did it so we can take out country back."

Republicans are keen for a rematch with Franken, who won his first election in 2008 by just 312 votes after a  recount and legal battle. But Republicans will have their work cut out for them. According to Federal Election Commission reports Franken’s 2012 reelection campaign was flush with more than $3 million in cash as of the end of June. A Star Tribune poll released in June found 55 percent of Minnesota adults approved of Franken’s job performance.

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