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Franken vs. Coleman: Clinton vs. Lazio Revisited?

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When Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate from the state of New York in the Autumn of 1999 she quickly was denounced by her political opponents as a carpetbagger—having never previously resided in New York. Ultimately, Clinton achieved a 55—44 percent victory over Republican Rick Lazio, with the vast majority of New Yorkers not viewing Clinton's 'carpetbagging' as an important factor in that Senate race.

When Al Franken announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota in February of this year, his political opponents began to undertake a similar exercise. However, one problem they faced was that Franken, unlike Clinton, does have ties to the state in which he is seeking to serve. Franken, though born in New York, grew up in St. Louis Park.

As such, the tactic taken by Franken's opponents has shifted to undermine the legitimacy of his Minnesota ties by examining who is donating to his Senate campaign. Right-wing blogs and the traditional media have been quick to point out that the vast majority of money raised by the Franken campaign (82 percent of the $1.9 million he raised in the 2nd Quarter of 2007) came from non-Minnesota donors. Incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman raised $1.5 million—with 50 percent coming from Minnesota sources.

Franken's campaign has since pointed out that he has more Minnesota contributors than does Coleman, when including those donors that do not have to be reported to the FEC (those who give less than $200).

The truth of the matter is that Franken—like Hillary Clinton—is a nationally known figure, capable of attracting donors from across the country. Through his 15 years of work on Saturday Night Live, penning three #1 New York Times bestsellers, and hosting a nationally syndicated radio show on Air America, Franken has achieved a much greater national reputation than Coleman and fellow DFL contender Mike Ciresi.

Thus, Franken's fundraising numbers are not so newsworthy as some interested parties would make it seem. The real headline would be if Franken was unable to attract vast amounts of money from sources outside the state. Undoubtedly, if this were the case, he would be criticized by his political opponents for a failure to raise money despite his national renown.

It will be interesting to see if and when Franken's fellow U.S. Senate hopefuls—DFLers and Coleman—pick up on this lead and try to make Franken's fundraising a central feature of their campaigns. If Rick Lazio were their political consultants, he might advise against it.

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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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