GOP’s Ortman bows out of Senate race, urges unity

Julianne Ortman sought to sway delegates at the GOP state convention. Tom Scheck/MPR News

State Sen. Julianne Ortman is exiting the race for U.S. Senate.

The Chanhassen lawmaker urged Republicans to rally around endorsed candidate Mike McFadden in the campaign against incumbent DFL Sen. Al Franken.

Ortman was considered the frontrunner for the endorsement at the start of the weekend GOP convention in Rochester.  At the convention, though, her support ebbed and she couldn’t move forward in the race after the fifth ballot.

She’d pledged early on in her campaign to abide by the endorsement, though she left the convention without saying if she would continue her campaign or direct her delegates to back another candidate.

She made it clear today she is bowing out. Here’s Ortman’s statement:

Today I spoke with Mike McFadden to congratulate him on having earned the Republican Endorsement for the United States Senate. I have the highest hopes for him to prevail against Al Franken in November.

I also congratulate all endorsed Republican candidates; they can count on my support. I urge them all to appeal to the best in Minnesota voters. Republicans can win in Minnesota again when we respect all Minnesota voters and reject divisive and deceitful tactics — when we are the Party with solutions, and the party of ideas and principles. We should always strive to run honorable races that all Minnesotans can be proud of.

Finally, I encourage the Republican Party of Minnesota and its members to engage and assist women candidates and diverse candidates to run for office. Our campaign efforts in the next few months should stretch the Republican Tent as far and wide as possible.

It was wonderful to have been invited and welcomed in so many communities, and to hear from so many other Minnesotans who also care about our future. There is no way to express my deep gratitude to my family, friends, volunteers, campaign staff, donors and supporters, except to say, “Thank you.”

McFadden could still face a primary challenge from state Rep. Jim Abeler. Abeler on Monday said he’s still mulling whether to continue his Senate run.

MPR News reporters Catharine Richert and Tom Scheck contributed to this report