By Aaron Blake - 09/11/13 05:49 AM EDT
Comedian-turned-liberal talk show host Al Franken announced yesterday that he will run for the Democratic Senate nomination to face Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.).
Franken, whose announcement had been widely anticipated, joins attorney Mike Ciresi as the only two candidates to enter the race, which is expected to be one of the most contentious Senate contests in the country. Ciresi has formed an exploratory committee.
Franken told listeners of his plans during the last 10 minutes of his final show on the Air America radio network. After sharing a story about his close friend, former Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), he described his political preparations since moving back to Minnesota a year ago.
He will be running for Wellstone’s old seat, which Coleman won narrowly in 2002 after Wellstone died in a plane crash and was replaced on the ballot by former Vice President Walter Mondale.
“It felt like I was making a difference,” Franken said of his work on the campaign trail. “It felt like I was doing everything I could to get our country out of the hole it’s been in for six years and get back on track. But I think I can do more, so I’m going to run for the United States Senate.”
Franken will likely be attacked by Republicans as a far-left liberal celebrity, and the Minnesota Republican Party began in that vein.
“Given his blind partisanship and extreme anger, Al Franken is the last person Minnesotans need in the United States Senate,” Minnesota GOP Chairman Ron Carey said. “While Senator Norm Coleman continues to work with all sides for the betterment of our state and nation, Franken offers Minnesotans nothing but polarization and vitriolic personal attacks.”