Navy vet, banking exec hopes to force Klobuchar to ‘answer for her record’ in Senate race

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Fraser says Minnesota is ripe for a change in Washington, D.C. after a $25 trillion increase to the national debt during Klobuchar’s tenure.

Navy veteran and banking industry exec Joe Fraser officially announced he’s seeking the Republican endorsement in February. (Photo courtesy of Joe Fraser)

A new, Minnesota-centric 2024 election survey that shows less than half of likely voters say they will support U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar for re-election this November was released this week.

That KSTP-TV-Survey USA poll came out just two days after 25-year Navy veteran and banking industry exec Joe Fraser officially announced he’s seeking the Republican endorsement to challenge the three-term DFLer for a seat that hasn’t been in GOP hands since 2000.

“The poll hit right on it — there is voter fatigue (with Klobuchar),” Fraser, 50, said in an interview Tuesday on Twin Cities-based KTLK radio. “She’s never really had to defend her seat and answer for her record. No seat should ever be considered safe.”

While Klobuchar’s campaign reported last fall that she had more than $4 million cash on hand for her re-election campaign, Fraser is hoping to take advantage of any sign that voters are less enthusiastic about the three-term DFLer, especially following her failed bid to win the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 where she raised and spent more than $50 million.

Fraser joins four others who have declared they will seek the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, according to Federal Elections Commission filings.

Klobuchar elections synced up with ‘Blue Wave’ cycles

The long-held convention by some that Klobuchar’s brand can’t be beaten has been reinforced by election cycles — 2006, 2012 and 2018 — that proved to be extremely favorable for Democrats around the nation.

In her first run for U.S. Senate, Klobuchar (then Hennepin County Attorney) took the baton from retiring DFL U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton in 2006 and defeated Republican Congressman Mark Kennedy by 20 points in the open seat race during an election year that was billed as a referendum on President George W. Bush’s handling of Iraq.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is seeking a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

In 2012, Klobuchar was an incumbent DFLer running during President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and when what proved to be an unpopular marriage amendment was on the ballot in Minnesota. She defeated Republican state legislator Kurt Bills by 35 points. In 2018, Democrats were preparing for a “Blue Wave” to take away President Donald Trump’s majority in the House and Senate, and Klobuchar defeated GOP state legislator Jim Newberger by 24 points.

Fraser hopes to prove that this election cycle will reflect the mood of Minnesotans he’s spoken with who say that the status quo spending habits of “career politicians” in D.C. is no longer acceptable.

The west metro resident, who lives with his wife Rhonda (also a Navy veteran) and high school daughter in Minnetrista, said Klobuchar’s most glaring blemish to her record is the $25 trillion increase to the national debt since she’s been in Washington D.C.

“That amount of reckless spending is going to bankrupt this nation for future generations,” Fraser told KTLK morning show host Jon Justice in an interview the morning after he launched his campaign. “It puts programs like Social Security at risk, it puts Medicare at risk; it puts infrastructure spending at risk, and that will all put the economy at risk because we have outspent what we can make with regards to innovation and entrepreneurship and the tax base.”

Focus on fiscal responsibility, national security, end to border crisis

While raising the visibility of his campaign is a priority for Fraser, he said he believes the atmosphere across Minnesota is one of voters who are ready for an end to the status quo. This week he’s already made campaign stops in Moorhead, Duluth, Mankato and Rochester and is hearing that message.

Republican Senate candidate talks with reporters on the campaign trail. (Photo courtesy of Joe Fraser)

“The general feedback we’re getting is that it’s time for a different direction,” Fraser told KTLK. “[Minnesotans] want to see someone who’s not a career politician, who’s not intending on being a career politician and who will go in there and just fight to get things done.”

Fraser said that in addition to his goal to be a voice for fiscal responsibility in D.C. that has been lacking “across party lines,” he wants to “work to put an end to the crises at our borders” and “ensure our streets and country are safe from those who wish to cause us harm.”

While Klobuchar’s campaign didn’t respond directly to news that Fraser had entered the race for her seat, the veteran politician did hit hard this week on the “bipartisan” branding she has leaned on during election years.

In three separate tweets the day Fraser launched his campaign, Klobuchar mentioned her work on a bill to secure federal funds used to construct a new veteran’s home in Montevideo, emphasized the need for more resources for rural hospitals and announced she is authoring “a bipartisan bill that would ensure people are able to reach 9-1-1 during natural disasters.”

Fraser is a 25-year Navy veteran. (Photo courtesy of Joe Fraser)

Given that Klobuchar has leaned into that branding, Fraser knows he will need to make the case that the totality of Klobuchar’s record has not made the lives of Minnesotans, or Americans, better.

“The price of groceries, gas, and medicine have skyrocketed, and the American dream has become harder to reach,” Fraser said in his campaign announcement. “The cost of public education is soaring, yet our school system ranks 16th best in the world. After honorably serving our country in the U.S. Navy for almost 26 years, I’m running for the U.S. Senate to continue my life of service for the people of Minnesota.”


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.