Editorial: Franken's hard work bears fruitAl Franken's surprisingly easy endorsement for the U.S. Senate 10 days ago at DFL convention in Rochester was not all that surprising to Franken. He won 62 percent of the delegate vote on the first ballot, an achievement that had Minnesota political pundits befuddled.
By: Forum Communications Co., The Republican Eagle
Al Franken's surprisingly easy endorsement for the U.S. Senate 10 days ago at DFL convention in Rochester was not all that surprising to Franken. He won 62 percent of the delegate vote on the first ballot, an achievement that had Minnesota political pundits befuddled.
Franken acknowledged that he had a few problems with delegates, some of whom were troubled by the work he did in comedy and satire before he became a politician. But he stressed that the effort he's been making for the past three years with Minnesotans in all corners of the state was the primary factor in gaining the party's endorsement.
He's right about that. Franken has crisscrossed the state dozens of times. He's been to big events, small meetings, one-on-one visits with convention delegates and informal chats with other voters. He's visited campuses, coffee shops and district meetings. If Minnesotans (both in and out of his political party) didn't know him a couple of years ago (other than his "Saturday Night Live" persona), they do now.
Franken will face one-term incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, who won endorsement for re-election a couple of weeks ago. Coleman and his supporters have tried to characterize Franken's sometimes edgy and offensive comedy/satire as out of step with Minnesotans. It might be. However, we suspect there are as many fans of Franken's comedy work among Republicans as among DFLers. As serious issues in serious times, satirical TV sketches and magazine articles do not measure up.
What does measure up - what will be important as the tilt between the senator and the challenger cranks up -— is a litany of problems facing the nation. Among them are a softening economy being damaged by high fuel prices; rising health-care costs and the embarrassment of uninsured and underinsured Americans; an exit strategy for the war in Iraq; the looming crises in Social Security and Medicare; maintaining the intensity of the fight against global terrorism; whether federal tax cuts should be made permanent or be allowed to expire, thus increasing taxes for nearly every U.S. taxpayer.
The two men have different ideas about those issues. Minnesotans will have a clear choice. As the campaign unfolds in the next two months, voters will have many opportunities to gauge the candidates' stances and judge accordingly before Election Day.
But make no mistake about it: A campaign that gets pummeled into the ditch by Coleman partisans who are more interested in Franken's comedy writing than his public policy positions would be a disservice to Minnesotans. By the same token, Franken and his people can keep their side of the campaign civil by blunting the candidate's occasionally acerbic wit, which can drift from genuinely funny to inappropriately mean.
It will be a fascinating race, in part because national Democrats believe Coleman is vulnerable. But it would be a mistake to conclude that the incumbent is in an uphill battle. The power of incumbency is formidable. Coleman's popularity among Minnesotans is solid, as recent polls confirm. It will be a spirited and, in the end, probably a close race.