Ortman marches to the right with endorsements, positions

MinnPost photo by Brian Halliday
Ortman’s strategy to polish her conservative credentials appears to be working. Several polls show her as the top Republican candidate to beat Franken.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Julianne Ortman has notched another endorsement from a national conservative standard bearer as she continues a rightward swing to gain GOP endorsement to run against Sen. Al Franken. 

Citizens United (the same group whose lawsuit against the Federal Elections Commission resulted in unrestricted political spending by corporations and unions) not only endorsed Ortman but also slammed one of her GOP opponents, Mike McFadden.

“Minnesotans deserve a clear choice – and Julianne Ortman can best articulate that choice because liberal Mike McFadden is just ‘Franken-lite,’” Citizens United President David Bossie said in a news release. “Unfortunately, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and other Washington establishment fixtures are supporting McFadden as if Minnesotans have already made their decision.”

Former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin took a similar swipe at McFadden in her Ortman endorsement announcement last week.

There could be questions

Undoubtedly, those endorsements would be used against Ortman in a general election campaign against Franken. Should Ortman get the state party endorsement, she might even face questions, particularly about Palin’s backing, in the Republican primary that McFadden and candidate Jim Abeler say they will enter.

But for now Sarah Palin and Citizens United can only help Ortman with her finesse to downplay the more moderate reputation she had as state senator from Chaska, a reputation that includes legislative proposals to raise taxes when the state was facing budget deficits.

In 2011, Ortman authored a bill to tax some online sales, although she made it clear she wanted the bill introduced for the sake of discussion.

In 2009, Ortman proposed a tax increase on predatory lenders – credit institutions that charged more than a 15 percent interest rate. Again, she qualified, saying that she hoped the new revenue would be used to drop rates in the low- to middle-income tax brackets.

Those actions cost Ortman the Republican endorsement for her state Senate seat in 2012.  But they may not affect her support today among delegates who will determine the U.S. Senate endorsement at the party convention in May.

Jack Rogers, president of the Minnesota Tea Party Alliance said, “Voting records in office is a thing we look at.” Although the Tea Party doesn’t formally endorse, its members tend be active in the GOP Party structure that leads to earning a delegate slot at the state convention.

Rogers said Tea Party support is earned by ranking a candidate on his or her position on a list of issues. Among the U.S. Senate candidates, “Julianne is in the top two of those people right now,” he said.  He declined to name the other candidate.

Taking no chances

Ortman appears to be taking no chances in misinterpretations of her positions.  At a debate earlier this week sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition, she was unequivocal in her support for military spending, opposition to NSA spying, and support of a “personhood” proposal to grant legal rights to fetuses. 

She also changed her position on the Affordable Care Act. “I’m not a full repeal person,” she told the Star Tribune in a September 2013 interview.  In Tuesday’s debate, she joined her fellow candidates in calling for an end to Obamacare, with no exceptions.

Ortman’s strategy to polish her conservative credentials appears to be working. Several polls show her as the top Republican candidate to beat Franken. And, in the contest that’s most important for now, Ortman is leading among delegates who will choose a party endorsee next month.

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Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/04/2014 - 09:14 am.

    Its almost as if

    They don’t understand that this is all being recorded. Or perhaps they are actually deluded enough to think that endorsements from the likes of Palin and CU are anything but a wall of shame nomination outside their hard right sphere.

  2. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 04/04/2014 - 05:25 pm.

    “Minnesotans deserve a clear choice”

    How about that, Citizens United is right. Minnesotan’s deserve a clear choice, it just isn’t Ortman. Minnesota doesn’t deserve anyone from a party as regressive as the republicans. She isn’t proud enough of her record to stand behind it so she has to move farther to the right so she can be more regressive. If she can’t stand behind her record she doesn’t deserve to be in office.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/04/2014 - 09:27 am.

    So much for the “moderate” woman Repubicans

    Well, maybe she’s pretending so she can get endorsed and then she’ll really be a moderate if she gets elected… just kidding.

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/04/2014 - 09:41 am.

    A nonstarter

    Based on the elections I’ve seen and participated in since my arrival in Minnesota, I hope that, party endorsement or not, Ms. Ortman’s hope to unseat Mr. Franken is doomed.

    Voters in the state sensible enough to shoot down a pair of ill-conceived constitutional amendments in the last election seem unlikely to accept a similarly-ill-conceived “personhood” amendment (she might look to Colorado, where it has failed at least twice on the ballot, the last time by a 2-to-1 margin), and no matter how many times the House in Washington votes for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the numbers in both Washington and St. Paul suggest that it’s not going to happen, no matter how much Republican candidates rail hypocritically against a health insurance plan that’s solidly Republican in both origin and operation.

    That she’ll have to fight off attacks from within her own party for taking fiscally and/or ethically responsible positions – raising taxes when the state was facing budget deficits, and increasing taxes on predatory lenders – strikes me as a sad commentary on the policy desert that constitutes the current Republican Party in Minnesota.

  5. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/04/2014 - 10:00 am.

    Citizens United, Sarah Palin ? With friends like this,…

    …who needs enemies !!

    And “Franken Lite” ? How sweet the sound !! Mr. McFadden is just getting a taste of it, there’ll be lots more where that came from.

  6. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/04/2014 - 10:28 am.

    Good luck with that

    Two things stand out for me in this article.
    One is that she is getting the accolades of the right wing despite her obvious position-shifting and pandering. Sincerity of conviction does not seem to be a big deal for these folks. As long as a candidate pretends to dance to their tune, they’re happy.
    The second is that, while she may win the party endorsement with her sharp allemande right, Sen. Ortman is almost guaranteed to lose the general election unless she moderates convincingly. I don’t see that happening now. Minnesota may not be a deep-blue state, but no candidate is going to win statewide with these positions.

  7. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/04/2014 - 01:54 pm.

    The role of the GOP moderate

    is to avoid real change, support the status quo, and negotiate to try to take the hard edge off of typically goofy democrat proposals.

    But the people want change. They’re not interested in the status quo and Ortman has wisely recognized that sentiment.

    The latest NPR survey of 804 likely voters (more democrats than republicans, which is unlikely in this election) concludes that “The overall political environment in 2014 resembles 2010 far more closely than 2012 … As of today the chances are better than even that they will take control of the Senate and add to their majority in the House in 2014.”


    Her biggest challenge will be to convince the electorate that her moderate voting record was an anomaly and that she’s seen the light. That and avoiding a recount scenario where a thousand ballots miraculously appear with the Franken box marked.

    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 04/04/2014 - 02:55 pm.

      A fascinating take on that poll !! Read how Democracy Corps…

      …, a sponsor, says about the exact same poll, including:

      “The Republican Party and Republican Congress brands remain toxic. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of likely voters disapprove of the Republican House, half (48 percent) do so strongly. Just a quarter (24 percent) approve. The Republican House now has a net negative -48 approval.”

      “This poll finds that there has been a misreading of public opinion on the Affordable Care Act. Among likely voters who say they oppose the law, 7 percent do so because it does not go far enough—this is especially concentrated among minorities. Only about 45 percent of the electorate is really opposed because it represents big government.”

      I would consume both interpretations with caution, and Mr. Tester’s take with extreme caution. There is a long way to go, and both sides are straining to put the results in the most favorable light.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 04/04/2014 - 03:36 pm.

      Seven months away, Dennis…

      I know you people haven’t had anything to get excited about, seeing as every made up scandal has led to a dead end. The ACA will prove to be a loser issue for you, as the GOP’s fears of it being popular are coming to fruition, which is why they were against it in the first place. As for the “found ballots”, it’s a debunked, tired meme that Coleman’s own lawyer admitted had no validity..

    • Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 04/05/2014 - 09:35 pm.

      The only trouble with this canned analysis, again

      Is that poll was national, Ortmann is running in Minnesota, which thankfully is better educated and knowledgable than the typical national voter. Most national voters are low information, easily swayed by ads and news entertainment, much like the commenter

  8. Submitted by Bruce Anderson on 04/04/2014 - 04:52 pm.

    Sarah Palin Endorsement, well that settles it

    Amazing anyone would accept the endorsement of Sarah Palin. Sarah is such a huge Minnesota influencer….

  9. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/04/2014 - 07:15 pm.

    So Here in Minnesota

    We’re going to have several months of instant replay of the most recent Republican Presidential Primary competition.

    None of these folks seem to have any better judgment than to sling mud at each other without ever, once, realizing that they’re muddying, even further, the very grubby image of financial incompetence that the Republican Party in the State of Minnesota already has.

    Meanwhile, the Democrats need to plan ads for the Fall Season that name all the groups sponsored by Koch Bros. which are running ads in Minnesota with the tag line,

    “The Koch Bros; if they win YOU lose.”

  10. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 04/05/2014 - 07:09 am.

    Is this all there is…

    …where mediocrity and a self delusional sense of self is to be the present and future hallmark of a party which has been thoughtlessly, or arrogantly slowly destroying itself; its own credibility?

  11. Submitted by Chuck Johnson on 04/06/2014 - 04:58 pm.

    Cindy Brucato’s ‘Analysis’ Ignores Elephant in the Room

    Bill Clinton once ran with the idea that “it’s the economy, stupid.” And while that remains true, everyone should understand there is a direct correlation between the pitiful American economic performance since 2001, and our overseas adventurism, most especially a couple of needless wars which have cost something in the neighborhood of $3 TRILLION dollars.

    Recently, in St Louis Park, if reports are to be believed, Ms Ortman, along with all the other faux conservatives insisted that American foreign policy be conducted with “no daylight” between the USA and that little Apartheid Regime over in Israel. That being the case, and understanding that Netanyahu is preparing for, and demanding an attack upon Iran ( http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-makes-a-case-for-preemptive-strike/ ), the “no daylight” policy in essence commits the USA to another completely unaffordable war.

    How do these candidates manage to continue to present themselves as “conservatives” when they commit the USA to a policy which will cost trillions? I thought conservatism was based upon prudence and not recklessly committing to another war which will be of little or no benefit to the USA. In fact, it can only serve to further isolate the USA from Europe as well as our allies in East Asia which need oil from Iran.

    Being interested as to the thinking of believers in small government, I recently attended a Tea Party meeting. When I asked how many present favored another war in the MidEast, not a single hand went up. These Republican senate candidates are fundamentally out of step with the constituency they need to vote for them if they have any chance of being elected. Ms Brucato can pretend this is not an issue all she wants, but it remains of great significance and is, in my opinion, a make or break issue for Republican Senate candidates in the upcoming election. The public adamantly opposes further MidEast military adventurism as congress discovered last summer when the proposal to attack Syria hit their horizon.

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