MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Al Franken served the people of Minnesota as their junior Senator for eight-and-a-half years. Just as his political career is ending, his beginning was marked in turmoil and controversy.
Long before we called him Senator, we knew him as a comic, the St. Louis Park kid who got us to laugh on Saturday Night Live. From comedy to a voice of liberalism, his nationally syndicated radio show was a democrat’s alternative to Rush Limbaugh.
To win back the seat of Paul Wellstone, Franken challenged incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008.
Even before Franken won DFL endorsement to challenge incumbent Coleman, he was defending past comments regarding sexual insensitivity. Early on, Franken apologized for past comic parodies of sexual harassment.
He first won election to the Senate by the narrowest victory in state history. The general election ended deadlocked, forcing a recount. Six months later, the Minnesota Supreme Court declared Franken the winner by a slim 312 votes from nearly three million cast.
“I am also humbled, not just by the closeness of this election but by the enormity of responsibility that comes with this office,” he said following the recount.
Franken’s tenure championed veteran’s benefits, health care, net neutrality and college financing.
But it was Franken’s tough questioning at confirmation hearings that created his 2020 presidential buzz, until political ambitions became no match for past indiscretions.