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News Tribune endorses Coleman for re-election

Success or failure in Washington often hinges on an ability to cooperate, compromise and work together -- not only with members of one's own party but also across the aisle.

Success or failure in Washington often hinges on an ability to cooperate, compromise and work together -- not only with members of one's own party but also across the aisle.

Which candidate for U.S. Senate from Minnesota has the best chance of accomplishing that?

Surely it's incumbent Norm Coleman, a Republican with Democratic roots, a moderate who has been able to remain true to his core principals, and a politician whose votes in 2006 on major economic, social and foreign policy issues split nearly evenly liberal and conservative. That's about as representative of Minnesota as it gets.

Effectiveness in office certainly would seem more of a challenge for Democrat Al Franken, a hard-edged liberal whose fast-selling books lambasting the Bush Administration and the Republican right make him an instant turnoff to many inside and outside the Beltway.

Coleman, wrapping up an inaugural six-year term of service to Minnesota, deserves another from voters. He stepped up with urgency and federal aid after the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis. While others talked about the importance of renewable energy sources, Coleman came through with tax credits as incentives. And he rightly recognized the exigency of the nation's recent financial crisis, voting in favor of a $700 billion injection that's showing results. His opponent called for a no vote.

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While it's little surprise that a Republican senator would find common ground with a Republican president, Coleman has been unfairly criticized for walking in lockstep with the Bush Administration. Critics can look no further than this year's Farm Bill or the ANWR oil-drilling issue for examples of Coleman's opposition to Bush positions.

Coleman supports a phased withdrawal from Iraq, a withdrawal based on military success and stability in the region. Meanwhile, Franken, touting an irresponsibly speedy pull-out, has refused to concede even that the troop surge was a success.

There's reassurance in Coleman's two terms as mayor of St. Paul, in his lengthy stint in the state attorney general's office and in his years in Washington.

While Minnesota's race for Senate has been marred by inexcusably negative and mean-spirited campaign ads, Coleman alone has called for a truce. Meanwhile, Franken has seemed unable -- or unwilling -- to shed the nasty streak that marked his days as a radio talk-show host, as a comedian and as a satirist who made his name on "Saturday Night Live."

Which brings us to the issue of celebrity. Franken has it. And hasn't Minnesota already had enough of the entertainer-turned-public servant storyline? Pro wrestler Jesse "the Body" Ventura was mayor of the sixth-largest city in Minnesota before becoming governor -- and was still unable to avoid late-night punch lines and national jabs.

The job of U.S. senator, like the state of Minnesota itself, is too important to risk being turned into a joke.

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