Al Franken buys townhouse in Minneapolis
Bob Von Sternberg, Star Tribune
May 20, 2005 FRANKEN0520
By year's end, comedian Al Franken will be a Minnesotan again, taking a big step toward possibly running for the U. S. Senate seat held by Norm Coleman.
"It's one of the things I need to do if I decide to make a run," Franken said from his current home in New York. "I haven't made the decision yet, but if I do, I'll have to have been living in Minnesota a while."
Franken, 53, said he and his wife, Frannie, bought a townhouse in a new development on the edge of downtown Minneapolis late last month.
He plans to shuttle between his two homes between now and the beginning of 2006, when he also plans to relocate his daily three-hour radio show broadcast on the liberal Air America network to Minnesota.
"I haven't figured out the details or the staffing yet," Franken said.
For the past 18 months he has been publicly flirting with the idea of running for the seat once held by his friend and political mentor, U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash in 2002.
Franken, who grew up in St. Louis Park, has not lived in Minnesota since he was 22.
"But I've always come home a lot, mostly to visit my mom, who passed away a year and a half ago," he said. "And I've always had a lot of friends there. Like a lot of people who live in Manhattan, after all these years I still consider myself a Minnesotan."
In addition, now that the Frankens' two children are grown, "it feels like we're empty-nesters, so this is something we can do," he said. "When they were younger, I didn't want to uproot them."
Franken's comedic career began with Dudley Riggs' improvisational troupe and carried him to the "Saturday Night Live" TV show, where he was both a performer and a writer. His work has become more overtly political and partisan in recent years, made abundantly clear in his most recent book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."
He worked for Democratic candidates, including Sen. John Kerry, during last year's election campaign and has made occasional stump appearances in Minnesota this year.
Two factors -- the reach of the Air America network and the rest of the senatorial field -- will have a big effect on whether Franken jumps into the race.
"Those are the other aspects of the calculus," he said. "It'll depend how important the show is, how big of a platform that'll be for me. And what if someone emerges who has a better chance to beat Norm? If somebody does, I'll campaign for them."
He's not yet certain whether a formally declared candidacy would force him off the air, as it did former Gov. Jesse Ventura, another radio talk-show host, who launched an improbable run for Minnesota's governorship in 1998.
"I've still got to look at the rules," Franken said. "I've got to look at the [FCC's] rules and make sure I obey the letter of the law -- probably the spirit, too."Posted by gril0029 at May 22, 2005 4:45 PM