ST. PAUL-The race for Al Franken's former Senate seat added another candidate Monday, April 16.
Real estate developer Jerry Trooien officially announced a bid for the Senate seat now held by Tina Smith. Trooien, 70, is running as an independent and campaigning against what he described as the political dysfunction of the Democratic and Republican parties.
"America has become third place behind the parties," Trooien said during a news conference at the Capitol.
In his announcement, Trooien riffed on everything from President Donald Trump and Teddy Roosevelt to his sports career and business acumen. But his main theme was his dissatisfaction with political party politics in Washington.
Trooien didn't shy away from acknowledging the nearly $285 million bankruptcy proceedings he faced less than a decade ago. But he declined to provide details about his current finances or how much he plans to spend on his Senate campaign.
Trooien joins State Sen. Karin Housley, a St. Mary's Point Republican, and Democrat Nick Leonard, a Minneapolis lawyer and activist, in the race to unseat Smith, the former lieutenant governor who was picked to fill Franken's seat by Gov. Mark Dayton in December.
Smith announced last week she's raised $1.8 million for her bid to stay in the Senate. Housley raised $500,000 since the start of the year.
To get on the ballot as an independent, Trooien must submit a petition with 2,000 signatures. If elected, Trooien said he would focus on health care, education and the economy.
He tried to ease voters' minds about voting for a third party candidate in what is expected to be a hotly contested election season. Trooien described the parties now dominating Washington as broken.
"Don't waste your vote on something you don't believe in," Trooien said.