The Triumph of Al Franken


Al Franken was sworn in as the Junior United States Senator from Minnesota on 7 July, 2009 - 248 days after the 4 November, 2008 elections. 

While the new Senate was sworn in on 6 January, 2009, Franken was faced with an election dispute by his Republican opponent - despite Franken having been certified the day before with a 225 vote lead by the Minnesota State Canvassing Board. The election contest gave rise to a trial before a 3 judge panel, which ruled on 7 April that 321 of 387 rejected absentee ballots should be counted - increasing Franken's lead to 312 votes. 

The drama of Mr. Franken's voyage to the Senate still had more acts to follow. His opponent appealed the vote count to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which agreed - 4 days later - to hear the case. Oral arguments took place on 1 June, and - on 30 June - the Court rejected the appeal and ruled that Franken was entitled to be certified as the winner. 

Shortly after the Court's decision, his opponent conceded. Minnesota's Republican Governor signed Franken's Election Certificate that same evening. 

The foundation of Al Franken's rise to the senate is broad and deep. A Harvard graduate (Cum Laude / BA in Political Science - 1973), he was a writer and occasional performer on the original NBC / Saturday Night Live from 1975 - 1980 and from 1985 - 1995, receiving 7 Emmy nominations and winning 4 Emmy Awards for Television Writing, along with 1 for Production. 

Mr. Franken is the author of 5 New York Times best-selling books. Three - " Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot And Other Observations " (25/2/96) / "Lies (And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them)" (7 September,2003) / and "The Truth (With Jokes)" (13/11/2005) reached #1. His other 2 titles are "Why Not Me?" and "Oh, The Things I Know : A Guide To Success, Or Failing That, Happiness". 

CD versions of 2 of his books were Grammy Award winners : "Rush Limbaugh..." (Best Spoken Comedy Album / 1996) and "Lies..." (Best Spoken Word Album / 2003). His 3rd CD is "The Al Franken Party Album". 

Mr. Franken has appeared in 11 theatrical films, 1 television film and an HBO documentary. He has also written a film. 

His radio exposure on Air America Radio - a very progressive liberal network - began on 31/3/2004. In 2005, he announced that he was moving to Minnesota and considering a run for the United States Senate in 2008 - as a Democrat. He formed a PAC - Midwest Values PAC - that year, raising over $1 million by early 2007. He had been deeply affected by the loss of Senator Paul Wellstone - like Franken a very progressively liberal Democrat - in a plane crash shortly before the 2002 Senate election. 

On 29/1/2007, Franken announced that he was leaving Air America Radio - making the formal announcement on his final broadcast (14/2/2007) that he would he would run for the Senate. He was endorsed by the DFL (Democratic Farmer Labour) Convention - 7 June, 2008 - and won the Democratic Primary - 9/9/08. 

Senator Franken now sits at the desk that Senator Wellstone had used. He presided over the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and his first piece of legislation - The Service Dogs For Veterans Act - (co-authored with a Republican) passed the Senate with unanimous consent. 

Senator Franken is assigned to Committees on The Judiciary - Health, Education, Labour & Pensions - Ageing - and a Special Committee on Indian Affairs. 

He is a staunch advocate for women's rights, universal health care, easier access to - and lower rates for - student loans, and ending all subsidies to oil companies. 

Al Franken follows in the great progressive liberal tradition of Minnesota Senators Hubert H. Humphrey and Walter Mondale, both of whom went on to serve as Vice President of the United States and to run for President.




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