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Abeler says experience sets him apart in GOP Senate race

BAXTER — Believing the federal deficit is the nation’s biggest domestic problem, Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, said he stands apart from other Republican U.S. Senate candidates in his ability to address that issue.

“This is a perilous time for America,” the veteran state legislator said Thursday at a gathering of Republicans at the Comfort Suites. “There’s no time for on-the-job training.”

Economics, electability and effectiveness, he said, will be the keys to what should be a challenging GOP year as Republicans try to unseat Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

He said he’s a candidate with strong positive attributes and “less to criticize” than some of his Republican counterparts.

Abeler entered the race in late June and visited every Minnesota Senate District in the state at about 180 events.

Elected to the Minnesota House in 1998, Abeler bills himself as a cooperative problem solver. He cited his key role in 2011 as chair of the Health and Human Services Finance Committee when about a $1 billion a year over a four-year period was cut from the Health and Human Services Department budget. He said that was the largest spending cut in Minnesota history and the surprising aspect was that there was no subsequent outcry once the cuts were made.

“No one else knows how to do that,” he said of his U.S. Senate opponents.

Fixing the federal deficit is the biggest domestic problem facing the country, Abeler said. The state representative said the U.S. is in danger of losing its status as a world currency.

“When the house is on fire, go to where the fire is,” he said. “The deficit is a fire and it’s going to cause damage. The term ‘good as a dollar’ is at risk.”

Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Cass County, spoke briefly to the group of about a dozen interested persons who turned out for Abeler. He said he wasn’t endorsing any of the U.S. Senate candidates but praised Abeler as a person of “the highest integrity” with whom he’s been able to work.

Fielding questions from the audience Abeler criticized the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups.

“The best defense against that sort of thing is an informed citizenry,” he said.

A chiropractor by profession, Abeler is a lifelong resident of Anoka. He attended Hamline University, the University of Minnesota and Northwestern College of Chiropractic.

In earlier news reports he said he had not yet decided whether to abide by the Republican Party’s endorsement process or consider a primary challenge.

Others seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat are Monti Moreno, Mike McFadden, Harold Shudlick, Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen and Chris Dahlberg.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or Follow on Twitter at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860