Some of the national leaders of the Republican party are lining up behind business executive Mike McFadden in the race to see who will challenge U.S. Sen. Al Franken, according to the political journal The Hill.
The Hill reports Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Jerry Moran, are co-hosting a Wednesday fundraiser for McFadden.
Other co-hosts of the $250 per person event include former Sens. Norm Coleman and Rudy Boschwitz, the Hill says.
McFadden is one of seven Republicans vying for the party's nomination to challenge Franken in his first bid for re-election.
A poll released Monday by the conservative group Citizens United showed state Sen. Julianne Ortman leading the pack with support from 16 percent of likely voters in the Republican primary. McFadden and state Rep. Jim Abler were tied for second at 8 percent. But the poll found more than half of likely voters in the August primary remain undecided.
The Hill calls this week's fundraiser the latest sign that the Republican establishment is coalescing behind McFadden, who already holds a substantial monetary advantage over his rivals with $1.7 million in the bank compared to less than $200,000 for Ortman and Abeler combined.
In a February article The Hill suggested McFadden is a centrist, pro-business candidate in the mold of Coleman, who was narrowly defeated by Franken in a 2008 race that needed a recount.
A recent Star Tribune Minnesota Poll found residents are of two minds about Franken, with both his approval rating and his disapproval rating having climbed since he took office (to 55 percent and 39 percent, respectively).
A Republican commentator writing for the Washington Post says the GOP is eager to portray Franken as a rubber stamp for President Obama, noting the Senator took Obama's side on every vote in 2013. The Star Tribune's poll also found Obama's approval rating among Minnesotans is at a new low.
Franken is one of eight Democratic Senators who were elected along with President Obama in 2008. The Los Angeles Times reports all of them are in choppier political waters as they stand for re-election this fall, although Minnesota is more Democratic-leaning than the other states.