Comedian Franken Wins Primary in Minnesota U.S. Senate Race
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WASHINGTON — The comedian Al Franken last night easily held off a late primary challenger in his bid to win a Senate seat in Minnesota, clearing the way for a much-anticipated match-up with the incumbent Republican, Norm Coleman.
The general election race will pit two transplanted New Yorkers against each another.
The Associated Press called the primary for Mr. Franken shortly before 10 p.m. Eastern. With 42% of the precincts reporting, Mr. Franken led a little-known St. Paul attorney, Priscilla Lord Faris, 68% to 29%. After initially supporting Mr. Franken’s bid, Ms. Lord Faris announced her own challenge to his nomination early in the summer when his campaign was foundering amid criticism of raunchy jokes he had told as a comedian and disclosures about unpaid taxes.
She criticized him as a carpetbagger who has lost touch with Minnesota values, and said the controversies surrounding his personal finances and his past as a comedian had rendered him “unelectable” in a contest against Mr. Coleman.
After bringing aboard a group of veteran Washington political operatives, however, the well-funded Mr. Franken stabilized his campaign. While polls in July showed him losing to Mr. Coleman by double digits, he has closed the gap in recent weeks, and a Minnesota Public Radio survey released late last month showed the race in a dead heat.
Mr. Franken, 57, was born in New York City but raised in Minnesota. He spent much of his adult life in the city as a writer and star of “Saturday Night Live” before becoming an author and liberal commentator. He moved back to his home state in 2005 with an eye toward seeking the Senate nomination of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the Minnesota affiliate of the Democratic Party.
Mr. Coleman, 58, was born and raised in Brooklyn before moving to Minnesota as a young adult after graduating from law school. He was elected to the Senate in 2002 after serving as mayor of St. Paul.