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State Rep. Abeler joins race to unseat Al Franken

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Eight-term Minnesota state Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, on Tuesday said he was planning to join the race to unseat U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

Abeler said he was forming a start-up committee for the 2014 campaign, MPR reports.

Minnesota needs a senator who will "strongly protect our personal privacy and liberty, unlock the stifling stranglehold the federal government holds on Minnesota, and recapture the flexibility we need to run our own state,” Abeler said in a press release.

“I am starting this run for U.S. Senate because I believe America is in trouble,” Abeler said. “The personal and religious freedoms that were intended for us by our Founding Fathers are being steadily eroded. Government spending is out of control and unsustainable. Massive debt to foreign countries threatens our sovereignty."

Abeler, a chiropractor, is the top Republican on the the Health and Human Services Finance Committee.

Abeler at times has gone against the grain – he was one of six Republican state House members who voted in 2008 to override then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto of a gas tax increase, MinnPost reported. Abeler backed GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, MinnPost noted.

The Star Tribune says Abeler "has evinced a tender heart for the needy but a libertarian streak regarding government intrusion."

Another Republican, business executive Mike McFadden, has said he plans to challenge Franken.

State Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, also is mulling a run, the Star Tribune noted.

A May poll showed Franken had a comfortable lead against possible opponents.

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