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GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Abeler vows to stay in race

State Rep. Jim Abeler ended speculation that he would abandon his U.S. Senate campaign and run again for his Anoka-Ramsey seat. Instead, he introduced his potential successor Tuesday and pledged he is “fully committed” to winning the Republican nomination to challenge DFL Sen. Al Franken in November.

The new Republican name in Abeler’s increasingly swing district is Abigail Whelan, a former legislative assistant.

“It’s the right step to take,” Abeler said of his decision to seek the Republican U.S. Senate endorsement although “more likely than not I would run in a primary.”

According MinnPost’s Campaign Finance Dashboard, Abeler has just under $14,000 cash on hand — well below all of his GOP rivals except Julianne Ortman, who has not reported her campaign’s cash on hand.

Fundraising is always a concern, Abeler said, but predicted “pure money will not be successful,” perhaps a reference to millionaire GOP rival Mike McFadden.

Abeler added that his advantage over Republican competition is that “the problems of our time are the deficit, debt and health care. My experience and expertise is in those areas.”

Abeler said that 57 legislative colleagues asked to him to run for re-election to his House seat, an acknowledgement of that expertise — and the risk of losing a newly open, competitive district.

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