Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eleventh-Hour Senate Roundup - Minnesota

This race has arguably the best backstory of any race in recent memory. Al Franken was a close friend of the late Paul Wellstone, who died while campaigning for reelection in 2002.

Republicans, led by Rush Limbaugh with an assist from Fox News Channel, used misleading footage from Wellstone's funeral to create the false impression that the funeral had been used as a political rally. Public revulsion at the "politicization" of the popular Senator's funeral propelled Norm Coleman to victory over standin Democratic nominee Walter Mondale.

Franken was outraged by this turn of events, and made the incident the emotional centerpiece of his otherwise jocular 2003 book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. He then hatched plans to run for Coleman's seat in 2008.

Here we are, and it's been tough sledding for Franken. There are a bunch of candidates in the race, including Dean Barkley of the Independence Party, and Barkley is eating up about 18% of the vote in most polls, with Franken and Coleman splitting most of the remaining votes fairly evenly.

The optimist in me would love to say that if people are this close to accepting a comedian as their Senator, most of the work is already done. But Coleman's not unpopular enough that a loss makes a lot of sense here. Obama's up big in Minnesota which should help, but I've got Coleman -120 to retain his seat. Sorry, Al.

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