Mark Kennedy announced his intention to run for the Senate, just two days after incumbent Mark Dayton announced he would not run for re-election. No one was surprised. Speculation that Mark Kennedy would run for the U.S. Senate was been a mainstay of Minnesota politics since late 2003. But first, Kennedy had to survive a challenge from Democrat Patty Wetterling to hold on to his 6th District seat in Congress. Although it was expected to be a close race -- Kennedy won by just 5 percent of the vote -- the Republican's strong showing may have caught notice of those who did not think Kennedy had sufficient strength to wage a statewide campaign. The 6th is a swing district and Wetterling was considered an extremely formidable candidate.
Few members of the Minnesota congressional delegation work harder to keep the support of the party faithful. During the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, Kennedy was the only member to court the delegates on a daily basis. And they responded to the attention with a level of enthusiasm that they seemed to have withheld from other Minnesota Republicans with more national cachet.
Kennedy is considered an excellent face-to-face campaigner;
a trait often more valuable in congressional districts than statewide races.
But he's also shown an ability to raise cash. Democrats had hoped a tough
race against Wetterling would force him to spend money that might've gone
to the Senate race. It did. He raised more than $2.6 million through the end
of 2004, and used most of it in his re-election bid.
According to Project Vote Smart, Kennedy's voting record rates favorably with the National Association of Wheat Growers (100%), the National Taxpayers Union (59%), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (93%), the Eagle Forum (80%), the Family Research council (92%) in 2005 rankings. He ranked unfavorably with NARAL (0%), the NAACP (26%), the National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (-3%), the National Education Associatin (0%) , US PIRG (10%), the American Public Health Association (12%) and the Disabled American Veterans (20%). The National Journal says he voted more conservative in 2005 on economic, defense and foreign policy issues than 72 percent of representatives. He did not return respond to Project Vote Smart's National Political Awareness Test.
In his September primary, Kennedy easily dispatched two Republican challengers, winning 90 percent of the Republican vote.
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