For Republicans in Minnesota, the year to run for the Senate may be 2014.
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar is up for re-election in 2012, but as vulnerable Democrats go, Sen. Al Franken is getting just as much attention.
Republicans think Franken is likely the weaker candidate, which could be one reason that no clear challenger has stepped forward to run against Klobuchar.
As the GOP attempts to retake the Senate in 2012, no one is willing to publicly say they would rather hold out and run against Franken in the next cycle. But some Minnesota Republicans are surprisingly complimentary of Klobuchar’s record.
For now, the GOP is trying to tie the more popular Klobuchar to the former comedian in the hope that some of the critique could stick.
Last week, the state Republican Party launched AmyFacts.com. But rather than tying Klobuchar to President Barack Obama or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as was the practice in the 2010 cycle, the site links Klobuchar to the more liberal Franken. Its tagline: “Talks Like a Moderate. Votes Like a Franken.”
“We’re going to point out to people that they’re two peas in a pod,” Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton said.
In 2006, Klobuchar beat Rep. Mark Kennedy (R) by 20 points in the open-seat race. In 2008, Franken defeated Sen. Norm Coleman (R) by just 312 votes. Since Obama carried Minnesota with 54 percent of the vote that year, Republicans credit Franken’s win to Obama’s success.
“Obama being at the top of the ticket and the excitement he generated and the enthusiasm from new voters certainly helped Franken in the Senate race, and that won’t be there in 2014,” said GOP consultant Jeff Larson, who advised Coleman in 2008.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Eric Schultz, who was Franken’s deputy campaign manager in 2008, doesn’t sound worried.
“If they have an argument to make against Amy, they should make it,” he said, praising Klobuchar’s record.
For her part, Klobuchar isn’t talking about politics yet.
“The last election just concluded in our state, and the Senator believes that Minnesotans want their elected officials to get to work — not focus on the next election,” Klobuchar spokesman Linden Zakula said. “The Senator has spent the last four years working hard for the people of Minnesota, and that’s what she’ll continue to do.”