Last year Al Franken, the comedian and host of the Al Franken Show on Air America toyed with the idea of running against Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman in 2008. After a few days he decided not to. But now he’s thinking about it again.
I’d rather be part of [the process] than commenting on it,” he insists. But he pauses, shrugs indecisively, a boyish chuckle follows. “I think. I don’t know. That might be part of the calculus of whether I go for it or not.” Whether Franken will “go for it” in 2008, against freshman Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, remains to be seen. “I can tell you honestly, I don’t know if I’m going to run,” Franken continues, as we now sit 41 floors below his studio, in the skyscraper’s courtyard. “But I’m doing the stuff I need to do, in order to do it.”
That stuff includes moving home to Minnesota after three decades away. He’s buying an apartment in Minneapolis, and moving his radio show to the Twin Cities. He’s talking about political action committees and fundraising with key state and national Democrats, looking to raise money for candidates in the 2006 elections. After years of stumping for Democrats nationwide, he has some chits to cash in. “He has national reach; his name and who he is will attract small contributors and large contributors from all over the country, so a lot of little folks too,” says Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, who managed Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. “In that way he’s like the Dean campaign because he’s really somebody that can energize not just Minnesota but around the country, to get involved and contribute.”
“I do take politics very seriously even though I’m a comedian. I never thought there was a contradiction in it; I always thought that comedy and satire are a legitimate way of dealing with very serious things,” Franken continues. “Having a sense of humor helps. If you look at terrorists, they really have no sense of humor.” But then he changes gears, a little. “Minnesotans take their politics seriously and running for Senate is a big deal.”
It’s certainly a big deal for the Minnesota Democratic Party. “Franken’s viable, no question,” says Minnesota Democratic strategist Wy Spano, who is also the director of the Center for Advocacy and Political Leadership at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. “There’s lots of buzz about him. I really do think that Al Franken as a star will bring lots of folks, and lots of money to the party.”[Salon.com]
This could be interesting.