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Home / On the Campaign Trail / Republican Mike McFadden announces run against U.S. Sen. Al Franken
McFadden, an executive at the Lazard Middle Market finance firm, announced his plans in a YouTube video on Wednesday afternoon. McFadden is a first-time statewide candidate and the only Republican so far to announce plans to run against Franken, who is completing his first term in office.

Republican Mike McFadden announces run against U.S. Sen. Al Franken

Mike McFadden (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Business executive Mike McFadden has stepped out as the first Republican candidate to challenge Democrat Al Franken for his U.S. Senate seat.

McFadden, a 48-year-old executive at the Lazard Middle Market finance firm, announced his plan to set up a campaign committee in a YouTube video posted on Wednesday afternoon. The move allows McFadden to start raising cash in his quest to oust Franken in 2014. Franken is completing his first term in office after beating former Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman by just several hundred votes in 2008.

In his video, McFadden stressed his family values and education issues. McFadden serves on the board of directors of the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis.

“I am very concerned about the direction this country is headed,” McFadden said in the video. “We have a very stagnant economy, and we have amassed an enormous amount of debt, which will be passed on to our children unless something is done. Our education system is broken; we spend more money than any country in the world other than Switzerland, and we get sub-par results. This is not acceptable.”

McFadden’s campaign announcement was overshadowed by the news of GOP U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s impending retirement. At the beginning of a state Capitol news conference on Wednesday afternoon, McFadden referred to Bachmann’s announcement as the “big news of the day.”

“It’s the end of one political career and hopefully the beginning of another political career for myself as we announce the forming of our campaign committee,” McFadden said.

Reporters questioned the timing of the McFadden’s announcement, in light of the brief notice that he gave for his Capitol basement press conference. McFadden, however, said it “wasn’t a spur of the moment decision.”

“If we are going to have a competitive race, and I guarantee you we will have a competitive race here, we need to start raising money and building the team in order to be competitive with Al Franken,” McFadden said.

McFadden singled out education spending decisions and the federal debt as key areas of difference with Franken.

“There are two wealthy people running for U.S. Senate here,” McFadden said. “Like Al Franken, I’ve been fortunate in my business career. He’s been fortunate in his entertainment career. We both love our families and care about them. But that’s the end of the similarities, and I want to talk about those for the next 18 months.”

McFadden said he will seek the GOP endorsement, but he stopped short of saying he would abide by it. McFadden is part of a developing wave among 2014 statewide office seekers: wealthy Republicans from the suburbs who are newcomers to politics. Businessman Scott Honour is running for governor as a first-time candidate.

The liberal advocacy group Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM) immediately went on the attack, comparing McFadden to failed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “Minnesotans should know that Mike McFadden is really just Minnesota’s Mitt Romney,” ABM wrote in a news release. “McFadden’s mergers caused thousands of job losses, including his layoffs at a Duluth paper mill.  McFadden’s only record is of firing hard-working Minnesotans.”

McFadden said candidates who have business experience but haven’t held elected office should have a place in the race. He will take a leave of absence from the Minneapolis-based Lazard during his run for the Senate.

“Do we want a class of professional politicians? Or do we want people that have had success in their different professions that then decide to spend time and serve their country? I’ve always believed in a concept of learn, earn and then serve,” McFadden said.

As political role models, McFadden listed GOP Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

See McFadden’s full video announcement below:


  1. McFadden has flip flopped on the second amendment multiple times, Minnesota needs someone who will stand against the democrats and their non-stop attack on the second amendment!

  2. In the debate McFadden, like Republican candidate Johnson,mentions how he thinks Minnesota should move to the privatization of our public schools with the use of Charter Schools…yep. Make our public schools “privately owned for-profit”.

    Google “Charter schools being investigated by the FBI all across the country” to see what this guy McFadden & his buddy Johnson wants Minnesotans’ to engage in. Find out how these Charter schools such as he wants are being shut down all across the U.S. because of fraud with the use of States tax-payer money. They actually have CEOs that are getting paid HUGE salaries. At the expense of tax-payers. I guess McFadden & Johnson forgot we have the Internet,lol. Another Republican looking to line his pockets with tax-payer money. And of course he can afford to put his kids in private schools,so no loss for him.

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