Franken officially announces Senate run

MINNEAPOLIS -- Al Franken, the comedian-turned-political pundit, used his final talk radio show Wednesday to announce his candidacy for Minnesota's 2008 U.S. Senate race.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Al Franken, the comedian-turned-political pundit, used his final talk radio show Wednesday to announce his candidacy for Minnesota's 2008 U.S. Senate race.

After taking a few parting shots at President Bush and invoking the memory of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone as his program wrapped, Franken declared that he'll join wealthy trial attorney Mike Ciresi in the hunt to claim "Paul's seat" from Republican Sen. Norm Coleman. The bid, Franken said, is no joke.

"I take this deadly seriously," the former Saturday Night Live skit writer said later of his candidacy. "When people hear me they'll know I take this very seriously."

State GOP leaders wasted no time attempting to skewer Franken, calling him an angry liberal who's out of touch with Minnesotans.

Franken's "vitriolic personal attacks" against national Republicans and Coleman will prove a tough sell to Minnesotans, said state Republican Party Chairman Ron Carey. "Is that the kind of demeanor and tone that's going to make him a successful United States senator?" Ca-rey said.


Franken, who is the author of several books, denied claims painting him as an angry person, though he did voice frustration over the war in Iraq.

"I get angry about things like this war," he said.

The St. Louis Park native said he'll make universal health care and renewable energy centerpieces of his campaign.

Franken avoided hard shots at Coleman -- a candidate considered by many political observers as particularly vulnerable.

Republicans see Franken as a genuine threat because of the money he can raise, Carey said, but added Minnesota voters may reject him. Franken, Carey said, resonates less with Minnesotans than with the New York City and Hollywood sets. DFL supporters shot back, saying Coleman's circumstances are similar to Franken's.

"It's impossible to make the New York City-carbetbagger argument when you're from New York City and your wife lives in Hollywood," Minnesota DFL Party spokeswoman Jess McIntosh said.

Ciresi, who earlier this week announced the formation of an exploratory committee, said Wednesday that he could make his run official by early spring.

Calling Franken a "knowledgeable, intelligent guy," Ciresi said the race should lead to "an engaging debate."


A 2008 bid would mark Ciresi's second attempt to gain a Senate seat, after losing his party's support in 2000 to Mark Dayton. That year, Ciresi pushed on despite losing his party's endorsement and forced a primary election with Dayton, who won the general election.

Other Democrats also have been urged to consider a bid against Coleman.

State Rep. Aaron Peterson said this week that friends and supporters approached him about running for U.S. Senate. Peterson, a third-term representative from western Minnesota, said people might view him as a potential candidate because he's from rural Minnesota and is "from a younger generation." However, he said he is not planning to run, but left the option open.

"What am I doing formally? Nothing," Peterson said.

"I'm not ruling it out, but I'm focused on renewable energy," he continued. Peterson is a leading sponsor of renewable energy legislation before Minnesota lawmakers.

Forum Communications reporter Scott Wente contributed to this story.

What To Read Next
Get Local