Franken launches battle for Senate seat in Duluth
Newly minted DFL-endorsed Senate candidate Al Franken kicked off a four-day statewide tour in Duluth on Monday afternoon. He spoke at the Labor Temple's Wellstone Hall, an apt place to start a general election bid to unseat the late Sen. Paul Wel...
Newly minted DFL-endorsed Senate candidate Al Franken kicked off a four-day statewide tour in Duluth on Monday afternoon. He spoke at the Labor Temple's Wellstone Hall, an apt place to start a general election bid to unseat the late Sen. Paul Wellstone's successor, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
Local DFL elected officials, including City Council members and state legislators, were on hand to throw their support behind Franken. Duluth City Councilor Sharla Gardner, a former "ardent" supporter of Franken's DFL challenger Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, spoke on behalf of the St. Thomas University professor.
"I'm very proud and very happy with what happened at the DFL convention this weekend," she said. "I was proud to be a Jack supporter, and I'm proud now to support our nominee."
Franken gave a typical stump speech at the event -- calling for universal health care, an end to the war in Iraq, a renewed middle class and a green economy, while calling out Coleman for his votes on Medicare and veterans funding -- but he also made sure to acknowledge Nelson-Pallmeyer's contributions to the race.
Franken sewed up the endorsement in one ballot Saturday, winning 62 percent of delegates' votes despite predictions that his recent P.R. problems would result in a bloody floor fight. In the end, it seemed Franken had quelled any doubts delegates had about his past ribald writings by apologizing for any hurt they had caused in a speech before balloting started. He addressed the concerns again on Monday.
"To the people of Minnesota I say, look, I'm not a perfect person," he said. "I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I'll be a senator who tells the truth. And I will keep my spine, and I will work for you."
Jeramy Bergerson of Cloquet attended the event with his wife, Jessica. He has supported Franken's campaign for two years, before Franken even threw his hat in the race. He said he didn't think the constant barrage of attacks over Franken's writings during his 30-year career as a satirist will hurt his election chances.
"That will happen no matter what," Bergerson said. "The fact that they criticized his career seems cheap. I don't think he should be worried."
Republicans, obviously, think otherwise. Coleman spokesman Tom Erickson said it's fair game to bring up Franken's past since Franken is so fond of talking about Coleman's record.
"Frankly, [Franken] has no record of getting anything done for the people of Minnesota," Erickson said. "His record is all skits and satire and joking about rape and writing pornography for Playboy Magazine. ... We fully expect character and experience and all that are what is going to lead Minnesotans to vote for somebody."