Abeler says he’ll push Senate fight to GOP primary

State Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, stood in front of his "campaign ambulance" to announce his primary run. MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

State Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, says he’s challenging businessman Mike McFadden in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Abeler made his announcement Tuesday afternoon outside a health clinic in St. Paul.

Standing before an retrofitted ambulance that now serves as his campaign vehicle, Abeler said he believes he's the most qualified candidate in the race. He acknowledged that McFadden has raised more money than he has, but said he believes he can best represent ordinary Minnesotans.

"My commitment is to Minnesota and to making it different and to do things a different way," Abeler said. "Otherwise I think we should just pack it in and settle for a future run by people who are the lifestyles of the rich and famous which I think is just wrong."

Abeler said he thinks Republican voters should have options when it comes to who will challenge DFL Sen. Al Franken in November.

McFadden won the GOP endorsement over Abeler and four other candidates last weekend. A spokesman for McFadden says the internal GOP contest is over and McFadden is focused on beating Franken in November.

Abeler said McFadden seems to want to govern by slogans.

“He’s been a successful businessman, which is awesome. And business makes America go around. It provides job and gives us the lifeblood of our economy," Abeler said. "But that doesn’t mean he’s capable to solve the problems of health care, budget, deficit and deal with the foreign policy matters that come his way.”

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