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Al Franken
running for Senate

Al Franken
running for Senate

Comedian Al Franken has decided to run for the Senate in Minnesota in 2008, a senior Democratic official from Minnesota said Wednesday.

In a recent conversation Franken told the official, who did not want to be identified because Franken has not made an announcement, that he had decided to run.

Andy Barr, the political director of Franken's Midwest Values Political Action Committee, declined to comment.

The news was not unexpected. Franken has been calling members of the Minnesota congressional delegation to get their input on a run, and he announced this week that he would be leaving his show on Air America Radio on February 14. He told listeners he would be making a decision on a race soon.

In a statement Minnesota Republican Party chairman Ron Carey said he was confident Minnesotans ''will reject Franken's divisive, scorched-earth attacks.'' The state Democratic Party declined to comment.

Should he win the Democratic primary in Minnesota, Franken would take on Republican Norm Coleman, a first-term senator who is among the Democrats' top targets. Coleman declined to comment Wednesday.

Franken, 55, was born in New York City, like Coleman, but grew up in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis. He was a performer and writer on television's Saturday Night Live before writing best-selling books combining humor and politics.

His political action committee raised nearly $1 million last year. Although Franken can't use that money for his Senate campaign, it shows he shouldn't have a problem raising money.

Coleman reported about $1.7 million in his bank account as of December 31.

Franken faces major challenges, said Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota. Besides needing to establish himself as a serious candidate, Franken has taken out left-wing stances that make it questionable whether he can win independent voters, Jacobs said. (Frederic J. Frommer, AP)

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