A few victory laughs for Sen.-elect Franken

Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenWinners and losers from first fundraising quarter Election analyst says Gillibrand doesn't have 'horsepower to go the full distance' Gillibrand campaign links low fundraising to Al Franken backlash: memo MORE is funny again.

The senator-elect alternated between jokes and emotion Wednesday in a victory rally that was, as he acknowledged, more than two years in the making.
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“It was close,” Franken began, garnering a big laugh for his even bigger understatement. “But we won.”

The Democrat spoke alongside his wife, Franni, as well as Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: Washington preps for Mueller report | Barr to hold Thursday presser | Lawmakers dive into AI ethics | FCC chair moves to block China Mobile | Dem bill targets 'digital divide' | Microsoft denies request for facial recognition tech Dems introduce bill to tackle 'digital divide' 20 Dems demand no more money for ICE agents, Trump wall MORE (D-Minn.) at the state capitol in St. Paul. He cracked jokes about the campaign and his work ahead while taking a humble view of his service in the seat of his friend, former Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.).

Franken learned Tuesday that he would assume his late friend’s seat eight months after he and Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) were paired alongside each other on the 2008 ballot and 29 months after Franken announced he would run for Senate

Coleman succeeded Wellstone, who died tragically in a plane accident just before the 2002 election.

“This seat belongs to the people of Minnesota, and so did Sen. Wellstone, and so will I,” Franken said.

Just minutes later, Franken offered one of a series of jokes for the occasion. While his wit was largely muted on the campaign trail, the former "Saturday Night Live" star and comedian seemed to open up and embrace his victory with humor.

“No matter how difficult the challenges we face, I still believe there’s no challenge America can’t overcome,” he said. “But I also believe that no politician can solve these problems alone. I wish I could take all of you out to Washington with me, but we costed it out. It’s too much.”

Franken promised progress on President Obama’s agenda and gave a special shout-out to his “brothers and sisters in labor.”

Those labor groups will be counting on him for their top initiative, the union-organizing Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), or card-check.

“Franni and I would not have had health insurance for the last four years if I had not been a member of a union,” Franken said.

After a lengthy court challenge, Coleman conceded the race Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the state Supreme Court had ruled that none of his arguments seeking to overturn the result had merit.

The court also ruled that Franken’s election could be certified — a move that would have allowed for Franken to be seated even if Coleman had pressed further with his legal challenge.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) announced later Tuesday that he had signed Franken’s election certificate. Franken could be sworn in as early as Monday, when the Senate returns from its Independence Day recess.