Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has an unexpected new challenger: Longtime Minnesota state Rep. Jim Abeler (R).
Abeler, who hadn't been publicly weighing a campaign, announced he would challenge Franken in an email to supporters Tuesday afternoon, touting a commitment to small government and personal privacy.
The longtime legislator has a libertarian streak, and backed Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign. He also has bucked party leaders in the past, working with Democrats to override a gas tax veto from then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) and earning support in the past from Minnesota's teachers union.
He joins self-funding businessman Mike McFadden (R) in the GOP primary. Polling shows Franken is in fairly strong shape for reelection despite his narrow win in 2008.