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February 15, 2007

Al Franken announces senate run

Al Franken announced yesterday that he will run for senate in Minnesota in 2008.

I interviewed Franken last August when he was still making up his mind about whether to run.

I'm delighted that he decided to take the plunge.

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Comments

Good God!...I hope he wins.

The only poll I've seen looks bad:

http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=eb762135-9754-4011-a424-d5401eacecce

Norm Coleman over Al Franken, 57 to 35.

Norm Coleman over Mike Cerisi, 57 to 34.

I personally like Al Franken. But being a comic and the very poor financial management of Air America are more than likely to become major political stumbling blocks for Franken to overcome. Voters strongly prefer to elect someone who made a success of a business, and not a huge financial failure that went into bankruptcy and then was recently sold to the Real Estate investor brother of Mark Green as a desperate act of financial salvation.

Eric:

Yes, those numbers are bad, but Mr. Franken has 22 months to close the gap. Definitely feasible in that time span.

Paul:

If Minnesotans are willing to elect a former pro-wrestler to their governor's office, I think they'll be willing to give a comedian some serious consideration. He's speaking from the heart, as evidenced in his video announcement of his candidacy. As long as he's sincere I think he's got a good shot.

Paul,

Fercrissakes, Franken wasn't running Air America. He was a host. Moreover, the program he hosted was a huge success.

Coleman's lead over Franken is similar to George Allen's over Jim Webb, right?

I've read several of Franken's books, and while humorous, they were at heart serious, with well-reasoned and supported arguments. (OK I'm a liberal; it's hardly likely that I would think his arguments suck).

When it comes to debates or issues... Franken will walk all over Norm.

If people listen to the candidates Norm will be history like Santorum.

Is there any journalist of Indian descent to volunteer to interview Coleman?

Well, if the scuttlebut is true, Alon, Coleman is more likely to fall into a "honey trap."

I'm way behind the times. What's the connection between Coleman and India?

I took it as a "macaca"/Allen seat-losing gaffe reference.

-the very poor financial management of Air America-

Who cares about the fact that they lost money, and that they have nearly no listeners. I tune in once every two months or so, and my liberal friends turn in less than that. They prefer to listen to Fox, then complain about how biased it is.

But everyone should care that Air America's first set of owners scammed $875,000, which included grant money from NY City, from a Bronx based children's charity. Al Franken, to his credit, did criticize those owners early on, in 2005.

But every time I think of Air America I think of the money they took from the Gloria Wise charity, nearly sending the social service group into ruin. Damned Fox News!

Franken's celebrity factor might help him. If Sonny Bono can become a Congressman...

I like Franken. I don't think his talents are suited for a Senate campaign. Look, Franken has some very real and very obvious baggage as a candidate.

1) The SNL videotapes. Just watch any old Stuart Smalley sketch and you'll see what I mean. I saw a rerun of one of those things a while ago, imagined it as a 30-second ad with the question, "Is this someone we want voting on war and peace?" at the end. There's no way in hell I'd ever support Coleman, but even I thought an ad like that would be devastating.

2) The carpetbagger charge. I'm aware that Franken grew up in Minnesota. But as soon as he turned 18, he moved out of state, stayed out for 35 years, and only moved back on the verge of making a bid for office there. That's already rubbed a lot of DFL activists the wrong way.

3) The celebrity factor. This is not necessarily a plus in Minnesota, which has delights at humbling politicians in either party who seem to get too big for their britches.

4) This race has been built up by the media and the blogosphere for three-and-a-half years now, assuming that Franken is the nominee way before any votes have been cast. Here's what Howard Dean said about his campaign's collapse in Iowa:

you can't cut the voters out of the process. I think the voters in Iowa, who really basically determined the outcome of it, 'cause we knew whoever won Iowa was going to win the whole thing because of the way the primaries were put together this year -- you know, I don't think they appreciated being told that I had it all sewn up by the media.

This has already come up with some DFL activists, who look at the media coverage and read the out-of-state blog commentary, and are wondering, "Don't we get a say in this?"

5) You can also point to a lot of substantive problems, like the fact that Franken was opposing withdrawal from Iraq on his show for a long time into Bush's second term, or that he's described himself as a DLC Democrat (at the famous O'Reilly event in 2003, no less), defended racial profiling for a few months after 9/11, and tentatively defended the use of torture in that same period.

Again, I like Franken, but his shit does, in fact, stink. If you read a lot of the local liberal bloggers in Minnesota, (as opposed to the out-of-state commenters who are Franken's base) they're not signing up with Franken right now, since again, they live there, and they have to live with whoever wins for six years, and they really, really don't want it to be Coleman again. Running the right candidate is very important for a lot of them. For all of you commenting on this blog who don't live in Minnesota, you can support Franken because his provides you with entertainment. Minnesota DFLers have to be a little more serious-minded about this.

On the other hand, if crappy fundraising letters like this are the best Coleman can do...

Here's Franken's first press conference yesterday at a community health clinic. It's a little over half an hour long, and it's on Real Player.

In the interests of balance, here's a 10-minute interview with Mike Ciresi, the other DFLer in the race at this point, conducted a couple days ago. He ran for the Senate in 2000, and lost the primary 41%-22% to Mark Dayton. He considered getting into the 2006 Senate race, but decided against it. DFL activists are a little wary of him, too. It's likely that other candidates will get into the race down the road.

Also, sorry for the typos in my first post.

Apologies in advance: I'm about to write a big long tedious comment, and it'll be rather inelegant since saying positive things about people isn't really in my nature, but I find the lack of lefty love for Franken baffling.

The guy's a warrior, straight up. Dude busts his ass for the cause, whether it's stumping for Dems, doing USO tours, saving Air America from the scumbags that made it their own personal pyramid scheme, whatever.

He's a DLC guy in the sense that he seems to get along with that crowd, but he's hardly a water-carrier; he got behind Lamont, sided with Dean over Carville, and for bonus blog cred, he fucking eviscerated Lanny Davis for nutpicking.

Plus there's the little matter of how he single-handedly created the pushback against the right-wing media takeover; There's a direct line from his Rush Limbaugh book to Colbert at the WHCA, and it passes through Olbermann and every single liberal blog with even a tinge of humor.

And did someone here actually bring up carpetbagging? I'm not going to delve into the minutae of comedy, but suffice to say that if you're looking to make a name for yourself in the biz, New York has some institutional advantages over Minnesota.

Again, sorry about the filibuster. The above isn't a response to anyone here as much as it is me lashing out in general frustration at seeing someone not getting the credit they're due.

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