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Is the Tea Party changing its tune on Mike McFadden?

Minnesota Tea Party Alliance softens its rhetoric on the Republican Senate candidate, despite leaders not being sure about “what he stands for.”

GOP-endorsed candidate Mike McFadden is facing state representative Jim Abeler and St. Paul teacher David Carlson in the August 12 primary.
MinnPost file photo by Brian Halliday

The Minnesota Tea Party Alliance is warming to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden. Or at the very least, its leaders are no longer actively opposing him, as they did during the GOP endorsement process.

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Some history: After McFadden appeared at a Tea Party event in May, Jake Dusenberg, executive director of the Tea Party Alliance, took to Facebook to warn his followers: “Folks, Mike McFadden is bad news. He has dodged the tea party and conservative base. He’s flip-flopped on multiple issues. And he is the establishment’s choice for the Senate.” 

But in a recent email fundraising message, Tea Party Alliance president Jack Rogers opened the door (a crack) with regard to supporting McFadden. The email asks for contributions to defeat incumbent Democrat Al Franken, labeling him, “a radical 60s-style liberal.”  

Does that mean that Rogers, who supported Chris Dahlberg for the GOP endorsement and was openly dismissive of McFadden during the state Republican convention in May, has changed his mind?

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“I am not for or against Michael,” he said. “But I don’t know what he stands for — or his principles — and that makes it hard for me to make a personal decision.”  

Rogers then added, “Let me make it perfectly clear: There are three men running for that office [in the primary]. Whichever one wins is the one I’m going to support and help to victory in November.”

GOP-endorsed candidate McFadden is facing state representative Jim Abeler and St. Paul teacher David Carlson in the August 12 primary. 

Rogers said the Minnesota Tea Party Alliance will not weigh in on the Senate race until after the primary. “The primary battle for the Senate is less important for us than the gubernatorial,” he said.  In that race, the Tea Party is backing endorsed candidate Jeff Johnson.  “One thing – Johnson is abiding by endorsement,” Rogers said.  “That’s the fine line of difference with McFadden.”

The MN Tea Party PAC reports just over $1,000 in cash on hand as of the end of May.  But money isn’t everything, Rogers points out.  

“We have no big money,” he said, though the group does boast an active membership of 4,500 statewide, most of them active in social media, and Rogers said he believes Tea Party support will make a critical difference in both the Senate and governor’s races.