WASHINGTON – Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate, has endorsed state Sen. Julianne Ortman’s bid to become the Republican standard-bearer to challenge incumbent DFL U.S. Sen. Al Franken this November.
Palin, whose political influence has waned even as she remains beloved by grassroots conservatives, made the announcement via her Facebook page.
Referring to Franken’s previous career as an actor and comedian on Saturday Night Live, Palin wrote, “Let’s give voters a contrast this fall: a clown vs. a Mama Grizzly, an Obama 100 Percenter vs. a Blue Star Mom, a talker vs. a doer, and a liberal Obama rubber stamp legislator vs. a proven conservative fighter.”
Ortman of Chanhassen is among several Republican hopefuls vying to take on Franken. Businessman Mike McFadden has assembled the best-funded and largest-staffed GOP campaign so far, raising nearly $1.5 million as of Dec. 31. Other Republican candidates include state Rep. Jim Abeler, St. Louis County Commissioner Chris Dahlberg and bison farmer Monti Moreno.
Palin has been endorsing a series of U.S. Senate candidates over the past few days but it’s not clear what impact her endorsement will have in Minnesota or in other races. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, SarahPAC, Palin’s political action committee, has raised nearly $1.2 million this campaign cycle, a relative drop in the bucket in an era when spending on Senate races can routinely exceed $20 million.
But the flood of attention from Palin’s four million Facebook followers could prove a financial boost to Ortman who has lagged in the money race, raising just $237,000 as of her last report to the Federal Election Commission. The Minnesota GOP’s convention that will decide the party’s endorsement for the Senate race is May 30-31 and Ortman has said she will abide by the party’s endorsement. McFadden has not and is expected to run in the primary election in August.