Democrats back Franken for Senate
ROCHESTER, Minn. – Al Franken won a resounding endorsement for the U.S. Senate on Saturday from Minnesota Democrats, quickly dispatching with concerns about jokes that offended some and promising a tough challenge to Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
“To the people of Minnesota, let me say this: I’m not a perfect person,” said Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer and performer. “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.”
Franken’s only competitor, college professor and peace activist Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, withdrew after Franken passed the necessary 60 percent threshold on the first ballot. Nelson-Pallmeyer proposed that delegates unanimously back Franken, putting him over the top.
Franken’s show of strength followed a rocky few weeks in which some Democrats, led by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, criticized a racy column he wrote for Playboy magazine in 2000 and, earlier last week, joking comments he was reported to have made about rape that were included in a 1995 New York magazine article about “Saturday Night Live.”
Rumors flew that Franken’s support was collapsing and that other candidates were considering a late entry into the endorsement stakes. Franken tackled the controversy head-on in his speech to delegates, where he said some of the things he said and wrote over 35 years as a writer were “downright offensive.”
“I understand that,” Franken said. “And I understand that the people of Minnesota deserve a senator who won’t say things that make them feel uncomfortable.”
Nelson-Pallmeyer said he would work for Franken’s election and won’t run in the Democratic primary in September, and for now Franken is facing no opposition. But trial attorney Mike Ciresi, who dropped out of the endorsement race several months ago, has said in recent days that he is considering running in the primary.
Republicans have also hammered Franken for months on some of the more outrageous comments and writing from his years as a comedian, as well as problems with his personal finances. They promised to keep up the heat now that he is the chosen Democratic candidate.
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