Gene Abdallah backing Pressler’s Senate run

Former GOP lawmaker Gene Abdallah is backing Larry Pressler’s potential independent U.S. Senate run.

Abdallah is one of four people who signed a letter, released by Pressler Wednesday, urging the former three-term Republican senator to run.

The letter cites Pressler’s experience and his one-term pledge, and calls him “a very young 71.”

Also signing on to the letter are former Republican lawmaker Don Frankenfeld, Francis Hass of Raymond and Ted Thoms of Sioux Falls.

Abdallah, who was defeated in a Republican state Senate primary by Ernie Otten in 2012, said he was backing Pressler partly out of loyalty to the man who helped him become U.S. Marshal.

"He backed me for the federal appointment 30 years ago," Abdallah said. "I just feel I owe my loyalty to him."

And Abdallah said Pressler running as an independent, not a Republican, didn’t dissuade him.

"I’m not happy with the choices that are running now, anyway," Abdallah said.

Pressler plans to announce whether he’ll run next week, though he said there’s a chance he might delay the announcement into January because of the holidays.

Some time this week, Pressler will change his party registration from Republican to independent, whether or not he decides to run for Senate. The longtime Republican called the party switch “very painful” but said the GOP has “gone a little bit too far to the right for me.”