U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden’s campaign is brushing aside a DFL complaint about his first debate with other GOP candidates.
The DFL in a press release criticized him for appearing before the Freedom Club, a private political club that it called “an exclusive right-wing group reserved for high dollar donors.”
Deputy Campaign Manager Tom Erickson defended McFadden’s participation, saying, “This is the first debate that has worked with Mike’s schedule.”
Some Freedom Club events have been open to the media but not to the general public. A spokesman for the Freedom Club has not returned a call to confirm the status of the Feb. 10 Senate debate.
McFadden, an investment banker, has been active in cultivating grass-roots support before Tuesday’s precinct caucuses, Erickson said. On Tuesday night, for example, McFadden joined other GOP candidates at a Senate District 49 meet-and-greet event in Edina.
His campaign makes no secret that raising money, especially from large donors, is a key part of the strategy to take on Sen. Al Franken in the general election.
The McFadden campaign reports $1.7 million cash on hand, roughly 10 times the amount raised by fellow GOP candidates Chris Dahlberg, Jim Abeler and Julianne Ortman. Franken reports a balance of $4.8 million in his campaign.
“You need to connect with voters, excite grass-root voters, and raise enough money to get your message out,” Erickson said.
The campaign recently sent a fundraising letter, written by several prominent business leaders, including developer Pat Ryan, former Cargill executive Fritz Corrigan, TCF Bank CEO Bill Cooper and former Target CEO Bob Ulrich.
“We may be backing different horses in the governor’s race, but when it comes to Minnesota’s Senate race, we are all in agreement: Mike McFadden is the only candidate with the money and the message needed to take on Al Franken,” the letter states. It concludes with a request for campaign contributions ranging from $100 to the maximum contribution of $2,600.
Erickson said McFadden’s support comes from a “broad coalition of Minnesotans” and “prominent grass-roots activists” who serve on his steering committee.
McFadden, he said, will go to a primary “as long as he feels he’s the best candidate to beat Al Franken,” and fundraising strength appears to be the foundation of that choice.