Newest Minn. Republican in Senate race an old hand

Published 10:25 am Friday, August 23, 2013

ST. PAUL — A fifth Republican joined Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race Thursday, making another try at the same seat he sought in 1996 when the party deadlocked over a candidate.

Bison farmer and former hair salon owner Monti Moreno said he hopes to get GOP backing in his bid to unseat first-term Democratic Sen. Al Franken.

Moreno, of Marine on St. Croix, said he’ll run on a platform of fiscal responsibility, highlighting the steady upward creep of the national debt. “It’s time to stop the insanity and stop the spending,” he said.

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He said he is undaunted by the many millions of dollars it would take to be competitive against the well-funded Franken, but wouldn’t guess at how much he expects to raise and spend.

Franken narrowly won the seat in 2008 following a campaign, recount and court case that topped $50 million in spending by the candidates.

To get a matchup with Franken, Moreno would first have to beat the four declared Republicans. They are St. Louis County Board Chairman Chris Dahlberg, businessman Mike McFadden, state Sen. Julianne Ortman and state Rep. Jim Abeler.

Moreno was among the candidates vying to take on Sen. Paul Wellstone in 1996, but the party couldn’t coalesce at the state convention and withheld an endorsement. Eventually former GOP Sen. Rudy Boschwitz won a primary and lost to Wellstone in what was a rematch race.

Moreno said he doesn’t anticipate running in a primary if another Republican is endorsed at next year’s convention.

Moreno is married with five children and four grandchildren.