Ciresi out; Al Franken's path to nomination clearing

Attorney Mike Ciresi announced Monday that he is dropping out of the race for Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) seat, clearing the way for comedian Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Take Trump literally and seriously in Minnesota Ninth woman accuses Al Franken of inappropriate contact MORE in the Democratic contest.

“In my judgment, continuing the endorsement race would only lead to an unnecessary floor fight. It is time to step aside,” Ciresi said in a statement.

Franken still faces a delegate contest with Professor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, but the peace activist has not raised the kind of money Franken and Ciresi have and will be a significant underdog.

All candidates had agreed to abide by the party convention’s endorsement and not run in a primary. But speculation had been growing that Ciresi, who was struggling with delegates, would decide to pursue the primary as he did in his 2000 race for the state’s other Senate seat.

He lost to Mark Dayton (D), who went on to serve one term.

Ciresi, who made his fortune suing Big Tobacco, saw his fundraising slow in recent months and was forced to pump his personal funds into the race, with Franken raising $7 million in 2007. Ciresi self-funded $2.5 million before backing out of the race.