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A Giant challenge

By Staff | Aug 11, 2008

Charles Aldrich, U.S. Senate candidate.

A man walks into the Register shortly after 4:30 p.m. on a Monday and tells the office manager he wants to talk to someone about his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota.

His visit hasn’t been planned by a campaign scheduling team. He’s traveling alone and he isn’t wearing a suit that cost several hundreds of dollars.

Charles Aldrich of Alden is dressed in jeans and a blue work shirt with “Chuck” embroidered on it. He’s just finished a 10-hour shift at Aerospace in Blue Earth, where he is a manufacturing engineer.

“If people really want a real alternative. I’m their guy,” says the 51-year-old Aldrich. “With the low public approval rating of Congress, I thought now is a good time to run.”

Aldrich is referring to some recent public polls that give members of Congress an approval rating of less than 10 percent.

A 12-year member of the Libertarian Party, the Wisconsin native got his name on the November ballot the unconventional way: instead of paying a $400 filing fee, he gathered more than the needed 2,000 signatures of eligible voters.

While Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken or their representatives have appeared in parades this summer, Aldrich also has attended some — but it was to collect signatures.

“I’d go around asking people to sign my petitions. I would stop once the parade started so they could watch and enjoy it,” he says.

A day before the July 15 filing deadline, the Senate hopeful had collected 2,150 names. Two years ago Aldrich fell short of 2,000, so he made sure there were more than enough “valid signatures” this time around.

“People have listened and are excited with what I’m saying. The challenge is going to be getting my message out,” he says.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with an industrial engineering degree and minors in computer science and math, Aldrich says he’s in the race to win.

“It may be a long shot. But, I have a shot,” he says.

Getting elected may seem like a big challenge, but Aldrich has dealt with adversity in the past.

He served in the Marines Corps and saw duty in Iran during the hostage crisis. His four-year stint earned him the Expeditionary and Good Conduct medals.

Operating on a “shoestring” campaign war chest of less than $100 as of Monday, he plans to rely on newspaper, radio and television interviews to boost his campaign. He says he’ll attend events like Farmfest and the State Fair,and debates the other major candidates are participating in.

Aldrich’s brother James Sherrill is his campaign manager and also is setting up a webpage — SenAldrich.org — to raise funds and inform voters of his stance on issues.

His e-mail is: chuck@SenAldrich.org

Aldrich says he’s in the early stages of the campaign and has “100 days to convince voters he’s the best choice.”

“Politicians in Washington screw things up, then when someone is looking they talk about how they are working to fix the problem,” he adds.

Aldrich favors government doing less with less tax dollars. He says Republicans and Democrats may say they are different, but they are the same when it comes to spending too much and increasing taxes to pay for it.

If he’s elected, there are several things Aldrich would like to accomplish:

• allow new drilling for domestic oil;

• eliminate subsidies for corn-based ethanol;

• eliminate federal taxes and fees on alternative renewable fuels for five years;

• restrict adjustable rate mortgages so only investors can obtain them;

• stop government funding to collect court-mandated child support;

• end the Iraq war as soon as possible.