Question of the day: Is Al Franken running for the Senate good news or bad news politically?

I have mixed emotions: On the one hand this will be big fun and fun is, well, fun.  On the other, we desperately need to kick some GOP Senate butt in the next election, not only to get a Democratic Senate in which the Democrats can actually do something, but also to declaw Joe Lieberman.  Norm Coleman should be one of the more vulnerable GOP incumbents up in 2008. 

And while I’m comfortable Franken would make a fine Senator, I have to wonder how strong a candidate he will be in Minnesota.  Will we end up paying for our fun by losing a precious chance to extend the Democratic majority? 

Let me be clear that I don’t buy into at all the argument that he’s too liberal to win; and I know he’ll be able to raise a bucket load of money, always a huge plus.  I’m just not sure that being a political humorist (and a damn funny one, by the way) will be that good a background for mounting a Senate campaign.  I’m also a little concerned how a Midwestern state like Minnesota will respond to someone moving back home from the coast to run for public office.

On the other hand, he’s done the rounds of Minnesota politicians, folks who obviously know more about the state’s politics than I do, and what he’s heard apparently hasn’t discouraged him.

So what do you think? 

12 Responses to “Question of the day: Is Al Franken running for the Senate good news or bad news politically?”

  1. Larkrise Says:

    Hey, if they elected whathisname, the wrestler, they could elect Al Franken. I hope he creates a stir and wins it.

  2. hizzhoner Says:

    I think it’s bad news.

    It is Franken’s nature to be a performer. He’s good at that. He’s a born actor/comedian and he lives for the adulation of the crowd. While it’s certainly true that there is a certain element of show business in politics, there is such a thing as being too showy…and I don’t think that Franken can resist being a showman as opposed to a Statesman.

    I’m very uncomfortable about his running….


  3. Larry the Red Says:

    Franken’s candidacy will certainly attract a lot of attention, which I assume he will use to promote progressive ideas. As celebrity candidates go, he has a hell of a lot more credibility than Kinky Freidman did in Texas. I have much less discomfort about this than you do, hizzhoner, although I can see how Franken’s candidacy has the potential to turn into a sideshow.

  4. Andy Says:

    I have met Al Frankin and have had the opportunity to chat with him one on one. While his shtick has been comedian/showman he is actually very thoughtful and has a good insight for how things work. There is no doubt in my mind that he can be a good statesman, but I’m sure his opponents with try to play up the Al’s showman side.

  5. rjrolsen Says:

    I believe it is a good thing. In fact its a great thing.

    First, Al Franken grew up and often returned to Minnesota when he lived on the coasts. He knows Minnesota. He is a Minnesotan.

    Even before Franken moved back to Minnesota he had a lot of connections, friends and family. Al Franken has been putting a lot of things in place for this run, and is in a great position. He has been tapping into the old Wellstone network, and raising a lot of money for the DFL. His PAC was a great test for his fundraising ability, and he has been on a number of radio stations in the state for three years now.

    Al Franken can be funny, but he is also very thoughtful, and he can debate the hell out of anyone.

    Don’t buy into the hype that Al can’t speak to Midwesterners, its a total crock. He is a Midwesterner and he knows how to talk to all kinds of people.

    Personally I think he hates the fact that a swarmy little man like Norm Coleman is in the seat once held by Paul Wellstone, and so he is very motivated to win.

    Lets remember if not for a tragic plane crash, Norm Coleman would never have been a Senator. He twice lost runs for Governor and he does not have much to point to as a Senator.

    In fact listeners of the Al Franken Show probably know a number of ways that Al Franken is going to go after Norm.

    The Republicans are scared, and are already trying to tar Al with the “Angry Liberal” tag. I mean “Slash and Burn” techniques? They know Coleman is in trouble, and going to try to tar him fast. Won’t work, but they’ll try.

  6. iowametal76 Says:

    …if not for a tragic plane crash…

    Uhh, I think that should probably read: …if not for a tragic “plane crash”

  7. FreeDem Says:

    There are many Liberal humorists, and even more liberal talk radio folk. Al Franken is not so extremely liberal as most on liberal radio, but he does seem to be among the smartest and most informed.

    A sharp smart biting wit, he would be very hard to Swiftboat, being much quicker than at least equally smart Gore or Kerry, he would be able to respond in real time, and likely lob back as fast as received. At worst such skills would be perceived as arrogance.

    Actually IN the Senate I think those skills would make a huge and positive difference.

  8. manngert Says:

    Norm Coleman is from NY. He realized he couldn’t get elected out there, so came to MN. Managed to get elected mayor of St. Paul as a Dem and then switched parties, realizing he wasn’t going far with the DFL. He has opportunist written all over him and Minnesotans can’t wait to vote him out of the Senate. Al Franken is widely admired among Wellstone liberals and one can’t fail to see he is thoughtful and well-informed.

  9. kenoshaMarge Says:

    Don’t care much for Franken although I listen to him frequently because he has such great guests. Problem is, he overtalks a lot of what “expert” guests have to say. Or makes some lame joke at an inappropriate time. Still, he should be able to defest Coleman who is not very popular in Minnesota. Franken might take note of Biden’s foot in mouth problem. Sometimes it is just better to be quiet.

  10. Rusty Says:

    I’d put Al Franken up against anybody in the Bush admin or his Kool-Aid drinking disciples, on a one on one debate– and most especially including the war criminals we didn’t vote for who actually run the show. And here again, his detractors use the word liberal with same derisive or comtemptous tone that people of yesteryear applied when they used the word abolitionist. I remember him on Politcally Incorrect with Bill Maher just mincing Oliver North and Jerry Fallwell AT THE SAME TIME! To the point where Bill Maher BILL MAHER! apologized. If I was Norm Coleman I would be getting fitted for some Depends.

  11. alwayshope Says:

    I think the honesty and humor he’ll bring to the campaign will be a breath of fresh air to the voters. We lost a wonderful humorist yesterday, God rest her soul. Molly Ivins got to her readers because she was straight-forward and she made them laugh. I think that is a powerful combination.

    Remember when Al would wear that satellite dish on his head on SNL and get struck by lightning repeatedly? And the bits when he was in bed with Arianna?
    That is just funny stuff and I just love to laugh. I’m pulling for him, he’s informed, passionate and honest and humor works in politics, just look at Jon Stewart’s credibility.
    Go Al !!!

    And GO COLTS!!!!!!!

  12. E L I T E B L O G G E R S • C O M » Blog Archive » “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough and Doggone It, People Like Me!” Says:

    [...] Poster Steve of The Last Chance Democracy Cafe wrote of humorist Al Franken’s soon-to-be-announced bid for a seat in the Senate, “I’m just not sure that being a political humorist (and a damn funny one, by the way) will be that good a background for mounting a Senate campaign.” Why not? Franken’s background is as least as good as too many other non-politicians who ended up in Congress. [...]

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