It's official: There's a big, fat U.S. Senate race underway in Minnesota, now that actor, comedian, and radio host Al Franken has been endorsed by state Democrats to take on incumbent Republican Norm Coleman.
Franken attended a unity event Monday morning at the state Capitol in St. Paul after he captured the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party's endorsement at its weekend convention in Rochester, said Andy Barr, a Franken spokesman. Many nonpartisan analysts call the race a tossup, even though Franken has never held public office. Coleman, a first-term senator, is a former mayor of St. Paul and former Democrat. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, other members of Minnesota congressional delegation, and the college professor whom Franken beat in the endorsement contest will be on hand at the Capitol, Barr said.
Next, Franken launches a four-day campaign swing across Minnesota that concludes Thursday night with a rally in Minneapolis, he said. "We win by talking about the issues and Norm Coleman's record," Barr said. "Coleman spent six years selling out the families of Minnesota to the special interests and the Bush administration."
Franken has been dogged in recent weeks by tax problems and by past writings he now admits were sometimes "inappropriate" and "downright offensive." In accepting the endorsement, he remarked: "I'm not a perfect person. And I'm not going to pretend to have all the answers. But I'll tell the truth. I will keep my spine, and I will work for you."
The Coleman camp answered Franken's endorsement with a statement from its campaign manager, Cullen Sheehan, who said: "The comedian turned satirist turned politician turned apologist has now exposed himself for what he really is: unqualified, unfit, and unprepared to be a United States senator."