U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman may be facing unique primary opposition before getting to the main event in November, his race against the DFL’s endorsed candidate, Al Franken.
Jack Shepard has filed to run against Coleman in the Sept. 9 Republican Party primary. Shepard, you may recall, is the man who runs his political campaigns via website from Italy. Previously, he ran in the 2004 and 2006 Republican primaries for the 4th District congressional seat, currently held by Democrat Betty McCollum. He gained 23 percent of the vote in 2004 and 33.8 percent in 2006.
He also ran for president in the New Hampshire Republican primary this year.
Though Shepard lists his home address as Highland Park in filing for this year’s primary race against Coleman, the former Minneapolis dentist has spent most of the last 25 years in Italy, where he moved after being convicted of drug possession and criminal sexual conduct in 1982. He also has been accused of arson.
Shepard, who was unavailable for comment and did not respond to an email message, has proclaimed his innocence in the past. On his website, jackshepardforsenate.com, he describes himself as a peace candidate. He also has said that his international travels make him uniquely qualified to be a senator.
The Republican Party says it has no plans to try to get Shepard’s name removed from the primary ballot. (In 2004, then Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer did try to have Shepard’s name removed from the ballot, believing him to be a fugitive felon. But the state’s Supreme Court overruled her decision, allowing Shepard to run.)