Well, it’s official: Al Franken is going to run for Norm Coleman’s seat in the U.S. Senate. Franken is not assured of getting the nomination from the DFL party, but I have to believe he has a strong chance. Regardless of whether his opponents are Dems like Mike Cerisi or Coleman in the general election, Franken is not someone people will want to run against.
For starters, the guy has big-time name recognition. Aside from the obvious benefit that gives to someone on a ballot, it also means he will have no trouble raising money both locally and nationally. It’s going to be a huge money race no matter who is running, because by definition it will be a swing race in a swing state. But Franken pumps the media attention and fund-raising up several notches.
Franken’s biggest advantage, however, is just who he is and what he does. Al Franken is smart and funny, but beyond that he’s a writer who is media savvy and has been paying attention to the way the media operates in the political arena. I don’t think much will get by him. Not only would you not want to debate Al Franken, you certainly wouldn’t want to trade quips or quotes with him through the media, either.
I think it’s very likely that at some point, perhaps several points, Franken will be too candid or flippant about a response and much discussion will ensue about whether he’s “serious” enough about the job. He’ll have to overcome those moments if he’s going to win. But Al Franken’s secret weapon is that his life, his career, isn’t riding on winning an election. He can afford to speak the truth, or at least his truth, and that’s going to go an awful long way with a lot of voters in this state.
Maybe he’ll be too volatile, or miscalculate with his staff or policy positions. Maybe people will decide he’s too offensive–all of these arguments will be made in force, starting with the claim that he’s “too angry”.
But I think if you were to ask Norm Coleman who he really, really doesn’t want to have to run against, he wouldn’t say Mike Cerisi. I think Al Franken scares the GOP to death.
I’m pulling for Franken. Damn, that would be a fun race to watch.