Al Franken Worries Me

I’ve mulled this post over for a long time because it’s so early in the process, but I’ll say it now: I’m concerned that Al Franken’s run for Norm Coleman’s Senate seat isn’t going to go well.  In fact, I’m not even sure he can beat Mike Ciresi for the DFL nomination.

Look, I love Franken.  I think he’s funny, I like most of his politics, and I admire him deciding to run.  But here’s the thing: I just don’t think Minnesotans are going to vote for him, because he doesn’t seem sincere.  I think he’s sincere about the issues, I just don’t think he’s sincere about Minnesota.  And frankly, I think the guy just can’t be normal enough for long enough to pick up the votes he’ll need to pick up to beat Coleman.

I don’t have a ton of basis for this feeling other than this: A two part interview he gave to Talking Points Memo.  I’m not going to psychoanalyze it too much, I’ll just say that I don’t think he’s going to make enough Minnesotans vote for him.  Why?  Mainly because he’s like a political version of Robin Williams.  He’s manic, he’s flippant, and worst of all, he obviously craves attention, the one thing reserved Minnesotans tend to disdain more than anything else.  Plus, there’s stuff like this.  Granted, I don’t put a lot of stock in the hearsay of GOP workout queens, but still, I can’t say I have a hard time seeing Franken pulling these antics, because above all else, he is a performer.  And a performer who’s lost his main venue, leaving this campaign his only outlet for attention.  (If you read the above City Pages link, go ahead and read this follow up about the OUTRAGE from liberals that City Pages would write about something so insignificant.  Personally, I think it’s fair game for copy.)

Keep in mind, I’m someone who badly wants to vote for Franken.  Watch the TPM clip for yourself.  Sure, Al would probably carry the Twin Cities with ease, as would any Dem candidate.  And he’s raking in money, but most of that is from outside the state, which is also true of Coleman, but Coleman’s won elections in this state before–for both parties!  But how’s Al going to fare out in the sticks, whose votes he needs to win?  I just don’t see it.  He’s just not a Minnesotan, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that he hasn’t lived here much in the last 30 years.  It has to do with the fact that his manic, look-at-me personality will likely turn too many people off here.  That would be true even if he’d never left the state.

I hope I’m wrong, but make no mistake: Norm Coleman’s going to be tough to beat.  The RNC is going to throw mega money behind this election, and Coleman’s political savvy should not be underestimated.  Coleman’s reinvented himself so many times already, and mysteriously he has never paid for it politically.

Maybe people like that.  Rather than elect someone who has “positions” and “ideas”, people like the thought of having someone who will change in a heartbeat to support whatever the public (or Presidential) whim happens to be at that particular time.

And, for what it’s worth if Franken can’t win the primary, I’ve heard from friends in the legal community that Mike Ciresi is an overbearing bully that isn’t much liked in the legal community…not a good sign for a potential Dem Senate candidate.

I’ve just got a bad feeling we might see a few more years of Norm.  But he may end up a Democrat again before it’s all said and done.

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6 Responses to Al Franken Worries Me

  1. brent says:

    the article on his workout is probably fair game, but i think the woman in the room is taking herself a little too seriously.

    by seeking out a news outlet to spill the beans about al’s workout antics, she engaged in some “attention-seeking behavior” too. i guess she’d prefer not to associate with herself either.

    also, if she genuinely had a problem with franken’s workout antics, don’t you think she could say something politely to him instead of turning to the media?

  2. In the end I find her input to be irrelevant. What’s clear is that there are multiple people of many political stripes who have been in the workout room with Al who all have pretty much the same description of what he does. And hey, what a guy’s workout routine is doesn’t exactly have a bearing on whether I want him to represent me in government. I’m not bothered the least by having a guy who chews a towell, growls like a dog, and screams at himself so long as he’s voting the right way on the issues.

    But…my concern is that this is the kind of stuff that’s going to keep him from getting elected. He doesn’t need to boost his name recognition or give himself a personality. Everybody already knows who he is. The state needs to feel like he’s not a comic loose cannon, that he’s a serious guy, in order to take down Norm. Look, the state’s pretty much 45/45 on the issues, and that middle 10 is in play. This is Minnesota. They don’t like “look-at-me” types here. It’s not going to work unless he tones it down and starts working the outstate regions earnestly and winning people over there, and I just don’t like the early signs of that happening.

  3. steim says:

    Is there really a big difference between Franken and Jesse Ventura in terms of “look at me”? If there is, what is it? If there isn’t, then is “look at me” really an issue with getting elected in MN?

    Franken’s the only candidate I’ve ever donated money to. I hope you’re wrong about him, because I think he’d be good and certainly a helluva lot better than Norm, who just really makes my skin crawl. Guy’s the epitome of “smarmy” in my book.

  4. Steim, I was also thinking about Jesse, and what the differences were. Certainly Jesse and Al have some similarities. But Jesse was running against a non-entity in Skip Humphrey and a neophyte Norm Coleman who didn’t yet have the credibility of being a U.S. Senator. And Jesse got elected basically because of two things: People who voted for him as a joke (like Friend of Pipeline Brad) and people who absolutely weren’t going to vote otherwise.

    Do you see Franken pulling a lot of those people who typically are outside the political process into a voting booth? I don’t. And don’t forget, Jesse was very much perceived as a “Minnesotan”. He had been coaching high school football here for a few years, was already the mayor of Brooklyn Park or Brooklyn Center or one of those other shitholes up in the northern suburbs. He was an outsider maverick.

    Franken’s never had office, but it’s hard for a guy who was the face of Air America to portray himself as an “outsider” when it comes to partisan politics. So yes, I think there are some important differences, but you are right to point out the Minnesota voter can sometimes be an elusive quarry.

  5. Stanton says:

    I have noticed that Franken invokes Paul Wellstone as a kind of shorthand for his own politics as well as to show he is a Minnesotan. How does that play up there?

  6. Becky O says:

    I stopped listening to Air America when Al left. I liked him so much, I changed my teaching schedule last spring semester to listen to him on the way to work (plus, I got to sleep in more.) Then, he left AA and I was left with only more sleep to make me happy. Electable? That’s another issue.

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