Al Franken wins Senate nod amid 7 state primaries
By BRIAN BAKST, Associated Press Writer
Comedian Al Franken grabbed the Democratic nomination Tuesday for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, setting up a showdown with Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
Franken, who gained fame as a "Saturday Night Live" cast member, easily beat six other candidates chasing the Democratic nod. Coleman trounced his only opponent, an expatriate living in Italy.
Minnesota voters joined those in six other states and the District of Columbia in deciding general election matchups. Nominations for House, Senate and governor were on the line, along with the fate of another TV celebrity: Kevin Powell, a former cast member on MTV's "Real World," who lost his bid for Congress in New York.
Franken's celebrity has both helped and hurt him. His coast-to-coast recognition enabled him to amass an impressive bankroll for a first-time candidate, but archives full of racy material provided ammunition to Republicans and his most visible Democratic rival, attorney Priscilla Lord Faris.
Lord Faris, part of a well-regarded family in state Democratic politics, criticized Franken for "angry and offensive public behavior" and said he'd be too easy a target for Coleman and his allies.
With 33 percent of precincts reporting, Franken had 68 percent of the vote to Lord Faris' 28 percent.
"Norm Coleman has become Washington," Franken said. "He's the Washington guy and I'm going to be fighting for Minnesotans."
Coleman sought to make the race about experience in public office.
"Minnesotans have a clear choice on experience," Coleman said. "Minnesotans have a clear choice in terms of record of working with others."
Also factoring into the Senate race, Dean Barkley won a spot on the ballot for the Independence Party, which is a major party in Minnesota.