No Joke, Al Franken Is Running for Senate

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Comedian Al Franken said yesterday that he will run for the Senate in Minnesota, giving Democrats the possibility of a celebrity candidate to face Sen. Norm Coleman, considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in 2008.

"Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical about whether I'm ready for this challenge, and to wonder how seriously I would take the responsibility that I'm asking you to give me," Franken said in a video on his Web site. "I want you to know: Nothing means more to me than making government work better for the working families of this state, and over the next 20 months, I look forward to proving to you that I take these issues seriously," he said.

In the 2006 midterm elections, Franken's Midwest Values political action committee raised more than $1 million to benefit Democratic candidates. Cementing relationships for a future Senate run, Franken traveled the state to entertain at candidate rallies.

Franken, 55, is also likely to have access to wealthy fundraisers in Hollywood to fund his campaign.

Coleman, a first-term senator, has faced backlash in Minnesota over his party's support for the Iraq war.

Last year, he told The Washington Post that Franken's "liberal base and Hollywood supporters have supplied him with tens of thousands of dollars to promote his extreme view."

First, Franken will probably have to square off against other Democratic contenders, including Mike Ciresi, a well-known trial lawyer who spent millions on a 2000 primary campaign for Senate but lost by a small margin.

Romney's Predecessor Backs McCain

Mitt Romney's predecessor as governor of Massachusetts endorsed one of Romney's rivals for the Republican nomination yesterday, a day after Romney officially announced his candidacy.

Republican Jane Swift said she was backing Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), according to his exploratory committee. "McCain is a principled leader whose unwavering determination to improve the lives of Americans is admirable," she said in a statement.

Swift was the Massachusetts lieutenant governor and in 2001 succeeded Paul Cellucci as governor when Cellucci resigned to become U.S. ambassador to Canada. The next year, Romney challenged her for the gubernatorial nomination and won.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company