Al Franken

Alan Stuart Franken (born May 21, 1951) is an American comedian, politician, media personality, and author who served as a United States Senator from Minnesota from 2009 to 2018. He became well known in the 1970s and 1980s as a performer on the television comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL). After decades as a comedic actor and writer, he became a prominent liberal political activist, hosting The Al Franken Show on Air America Radio.

Franken was first elected to the United States Senate in 2008 as the nominee of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL, an affiliate of the Democratic Party), defeating incumbent Republican Senator Norm Coleman by 312 votes out of nearly three million cast (a margin of less than 0.01%). He won reelection in 2014 with 53.2% of the vote over Republican challenger Mike McFadden. Franken resigned on January 2, 2018, after several allegations of groping were made against him.

Al Franken
Al Franken, official portrait, 114th Congress
United States Senator
from Minnesota
In office
July 7, 2009[n 1] – January 2, 2018
Preceded byNorm Coleman
Succeeded byTina Smith
Personal details
Born
Alan Stuart Franken

May 21, 1951 (age 67)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
Franni Bryson (m. 1975)
Children2
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Signature
Al Franken's signature

Early life and education

Franken was born on May 21, 1951, in New York City, to Joseph Franken, a printing salesman, and Phoebe Franken (born Kunst), a real estate agent. His paternal grandparents emigrated from Germany; his maternal grandfather came from Grodno, Russian Empire; and his maternal grandmother's parents were also from the Russian Empire. Phoebe was from Allentown, Pennsylvania.[1][2] Both of his parents were Jews, and Franken was raised in a Reform Jewish home.[3] The Frankens moved to Albert Lea, Minnesota, when he was four years old.[4] His father opened a quilting factory, but it failed after just two years. The family then moved to St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis.[5] Franken graduated from The Blake School in 1969, where he was a member of the wrestling team.[6] He attended Harvard College, where he majored in political science, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1973.[7] His older brother Owen is a photojournalist, and his cousin Bob is a journalist for MSNBC.[8]

Franken began performing in high school, where he and his longtime friend and writing partner Tom Davis were known for their comedy.[9] The duo first performed on stage at Minneapolis's Brave New Workshop theater, specializing in political satire.[10] They soon found themselves in what was described as "a life of near-total failure on the fringes of show business in Los Angeles."[11]

Saturday Night Live

Franken and Tom Davis were recruited as two of the original writers and occasional performers on Saturday Night Live (SNL) (1975–1980, 1985–1995). In SNL's first season, the two apprentice writers shared a salary of $350 per week.[9] Franken received seven Emmy nominations and three awards for his television writing and producing while creating such characters as self-help guru Stuart Smalley. Another routine proclaimed the 1980s the Al Franken Decade.[12] Franken and Davis wrote the script of the 1986 comedy film One More Saturday Night, appearing in it as rock singers in a band called Bad Mouth. They also had minor roles in All You Need Is Cash and the film Trading Places, starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd .

On Weekend Update near the end of Season 5, Franken delivered a commentary called "A Limo for a Lame-O". He mocked controversial NBC president Fred Silverman as "a total unequivocal failure" and displayed a chart showing the poor ratings of NBC programs. As a result of this sketch, Silverman declined Lorne Michaels's recommendation that Franken succeed him as the producer, and Franken left the show when Michaels did, at the end of the 1979–80 season.[13] Franken returned to the show in 1985 as a writer and occasional performer. He has acknowledged using cocaine and other illegal drugs while working in television, and stated that he stopped after John Belushi died of an overdose.[14][15] In 1995, Franken left the show in protest over losing the role of Weekend Update anchor to Norm Macdonald.[16]

Post-SNL

Al Franken at Ramstein Air Force Base, Dec 2000
Franken entertaining troops at Ramstein Air Base in December 2000

In 1995, Franken wrote and starred in the film Stuart Saves His Family, which was based on his SNL character Stuart Smalley. The film was a critical and commercial failure, and Franken later became depressed as a result.[17][18] Despite its aggregate rating of 30% on Rotten Tomatoes,[19] the film received favorable reviews from The Washington Post[20] and Gene Siskel.[21]

Franken is the author of four books that made The New York Times Best Seller list.[22] In 2003, Penguin Books published his Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, a satirical book on American politics and conservatism. The book's title incorporated the Fox News slogan "Fair and Balanced", and had a cover photo of Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly; that August, Fox News sued, claiming infringement of its registered trademark phrase.[23][24] A federal judge found the lawsuit "wholly without merit." The incident focused media attention on Franken's book and, according to him, greatly increased its sales.[25][26] The publicity resulting from the lawsuit propelled Franken's yet-to-be-released book to number 1 on Amazon.com.[27]

Franken signed a one-year contract in early 2004 to host a talk show for Air America Radio's flagship program with co-host Katherine Lanpher, who remained with the show until October 2005. The network was launched on March 31, 2004. Originally named The O'Franken Factor but renamed The Al Franken Show on July 12, 2004, the show aired three hours a day, five days a week for three years. Its stated goal was to put more progressive views on the public airwaves to counter what Franken perceived as the dominance of conservative syndicated commentary on the radio: "I'm doing this because I want to use my energies to get Bush unelected", he told a New York Times reporter in 2004.[28] Franken's last radio show on Air America Radio was on February 14, 2007, at the end of which he announced his candidacy for the United States Senate.[29]

Franken also co-wrote the film When a Man Loves a Woman, co-created and starred in the NBC sitcom LateLine, and appeared in the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate.

In 2003, Franken served as a Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.[12] Since 2005, he has been a contributor to The Huffington Post.[30]

Franken toured Iraq several times with the United Service Organizations (USO).[31] On March 25, 2009, he was presented with the USO Metro Merit Award for his 10 years of involvement with the organization.[32][33]

Political activism prior to election

Senator Paul Simon and comedian Al Franken
Franken with Senator Paul Simon in 1991

According to an article by Richard Corliss published in Time magazine, "In a way, Franken has been running for office since the late '70s." Corliss also hinted at Franken's "possibly ironic role as a relentless self-promoter" in proclaiming the 1980s "The Al Franken Decade" and saying, "Vote for me, Al Franken. You'll be glad you did!"[34] In 1999, Franken released a parody book, Why Not Me?, detailing his hypothetical campaign for president in 2000. He had been a strong supporter of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone and was deeply affected by Wellstone's death in a plane crash shortly before the 2002 election. Wellstone was a mentor[35][36] and political and personal role model for Franken, who stated his hopes of following in Wellstone's footsteps.[37][38]

Franken said he learned that 21% of Americans received most of their news from talk radio, an almost exclusively conservative medium.[34] "I didn't want to sit on the sidelines, and I believed Air America could make a difference", he said.[34] In November 2003, Franken talked about moving back to his home state of Minnesota to run for the Senate. At the time the seat once held by Wellstone was occupied by Republican Norm Coleman. At a 2004 Democratic presidential campaign event, Franken tackled a man who was allegedly threatening other attendees and heckling Governor Howard Dean.[39][40] In 2005, Franken announced his move to Minnesota: "I can tell you honestly, I don't know if I'm going to run, but I'm doing the stuff I need to do in order to do it."[41] In late 2005, he started his own political action committee, Midwest Values PAC. By early 2007, the PAC had raised more than $1 million.[42][43]

Franken was the subject of the 2006 documentary film Al Franken: God Spoke, which The New York Times called "an investigation of the phenomenon of ideological celebrity."[44]

Al Franken Iraq 7
Franken playing Saddam Hussein while entertaining service members in Iraq (2005)

Franken initially supported the Iraq War but opposed the 2007 troop surge. In an interview with MSNBC's Joe Scarborough,[45] he said that he "believed Colin Powell", whose presentation at the United Nations convinced him that the war was necessary, but that he had since come to believe that "we were misled into the war" and urged the Democratic-controlled Congress to refuse to pass appropriations bills to fund the war if they did not include timetables for leaving Iraq. In an interview with Josh Marshall, Franken said of the Democrats, "I think we've gotta make President George W. Bush say, 'OK, I'm cutting off funding because I won't agree to a timetable.'"[46]

Franken favors transitioning to a universal health care system,[47] with the provision that every child in America should receive health care coverage immediately. He objects to efforts to privatize Social Security or cut benefits, and favors raising the cap on wages to which Social Security taxes apply.[48] On his 2008 campaign website, he voiced support for cutting subsidies for oil companies, increasing money available for college students, and cutting interest rates on student loans.[49][50]

During the 2008 election, New York state officials asserted that Al Franken Inc. had failed to carry required workers compensation insurance for employees who assisted him with his comedy and public speaking from 2002 to 2005. Franken paid a $25,000 fine to the state of New York upon being advised his corporation was out of compliance with the state's workers compensation laws.[51] At the same time, the California Franchise Tax Board reported that the same corporation owed more than $4,743 in taxes, fines, and associated penalties in the state of California for 2003 through 2007, because the corporation did not file tax returns in the state for those years.[52] A Franken representative said that it followed the advice of an accountant who believed when the corporation stopped doing business in California that no further filing was required.[53] Subsequently, Franken paid $70,000 in back income taxes in 17 states dating back to 2003, mostly from his speeches and other paid appearances. Franken said he paid the income tax in his state of residence, and he would seek retroactive credit for paying the taxes in the wrong state.[54]

U.S. Senate

2008 elections

AlFranken
Franken campaigning for the U.S. Senate in 2008

On January 29, 2007, Franken announced his departure from Air America Radio,[29] and on the day of his final show, February 14, he formally announced his candidacy for the United States Senate from Minnesota in 2008.[55] Challenging him for the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party endorsement was Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, a professor, author, and activist; trial lawyer Mike Ciresi; and attorney and human rights activist Jim Cohen, who dropped out of the race early.[56] Franken won the nomination with 65% of the vote.

On July 8, 2007, Franken's campaign stated that it expected to announce that he had raised more money than his Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, during the second quarter of the year, taking in $1.9 million to Coleman's $1.6 million,[57][58] although in early July 2007, Coleman's $3.8 million cash on hand exceeded Franken's $2 million.[58]

In late May 2008, the Minnesota Republican Party released a letter about an article Franken had written for Playboy magazine in 2000 titled "Porn-O-Rama!" The letter, signed by six prominent GOP women, including a state senator and state representative, called on Franken to apologize for what they called a "demeaning and degrading" article.[59] His campaign spokesman responded, "Al had a long career as a satirist. But he understands the difference between what you say as a satirist and what you do as a senator. And as a Senator, Norm Coleman has disrespected the people of Minnesota by putting the Exxons and Halliburtons ahead of working families. And there's nothing funny about that."[59]

On June 7, 2008, Franken was endorsed by the DFL.[60] In a July 2008 interview with CNN, he was endorsed by Ben Stein, a noted entertainer, speechwriter, lawyer and author known for his conservative views, who generally supported Republican candidates.[61] Stein said of Franken, "He is my pal, and he is a really, really capable smart guy. I don't agree with all of his positions, but he is a very impressive guy, and I think he should be in the Senate."

During his campaign, Franken was criticized for advising SNL creator Lorne Michaels on a political sketch ridiculing Senator John McCain's ads attacking Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.[62] Coleman's campaign reacted, saying, "Once again, he proves he's more interested in entertainment than service, and ridiculing those with whom he disagrees."[63]

Preliminary reports on election night, November 4, were that Coleman was leading by over 700 votes, but the official results, certified on November 18, 2008, had Coleman leading by only 215 votes. As the two candidates were separated by less than 0.5 percent of the votes cast, the Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, authorized the automatic recount provided for in Minnesota election law. In the recount, ballots and certifying materials were examined by hand, and candidates could file challenges to the legality of ballots or materials for inclusion or exclusion. On January 5, 2009, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board certified the recounted vote totals, with Franken ahead by 225 votes.[64]

On January 6, 2009, Coleman's campaign filed an election contest, which led to a trial before a three-judge panel.[65] The trial ended on April 7, when the panel ruled that 351 of 387 disputed absentee ballots were incorrectly rejected and ordered them counted. Counting those ballots raised Franken's lead to 312 votes. Coleman appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court on April 20.[66][67][68] On April 24, the Minnesota Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.[69][70] Oral arguments were conducted on June 1.[69][71]

On June 30, 2009, the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously rejected Coleman's appeal and said that Franken was entitled to be certified as the winner. Shortly after the court's decision, Coleman conceded.[72] Governor Tim Pawlenty signed Franken's election certificate that same evening.[73]

2014 elections

Franken was reelected to a second term in 2014. He won the August 12 primary election, in which he was challenged by Sandra Henningsgard, with 94.5% of the vote.[74] He won the general election against the Republican candidate, Mike McFadden, with 53.2% of the vote.[75][76]

Tenure

Joe Biden meets with Al Franken in DC 5-6-09
Franken meeting with Vice President Joe Biden in May 2009

Franken was sworn into the Senate on July 7, 2009, 246 days after the election.[77][78] He took the oath of office with the Bible of late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, whose old seat was set aside for Franken by Senate leaders.[79][80]

On August 6, 2009, Franken presided over the confirmation vote of Sonia Sotomayor to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.[81] On August 5, 2010, Franken presided over the confirmation vote of Elena Kagan. His first piece of legislation, the Service Dogs for Veterans Act, which he wrote jointly with Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, passed the Senate by unanimous consent, establishing a program with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to pair disabled veterans with service dogs.[82]

Al Franken Official Senate Portrait
2009 official portrait

A video of Franken at the Minnesota State Fair on September 2, 2009, engaging in a discussion with a group of Tea Party protesters on health care reform, began circulating on the Internet and soon went viral.[83][84] The discussion was noted for its civility, in contrast to the explosive character of several other discussions between members of the 111th Congress and their constituents that had occurred over the summer.[83][85][86]

During the debate on health care reform, Franken was one of the strongest supporters of a single-payer system.[87] He authored an amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act called the Medical Loss Ratio, which required that insurance companies spend at least 80% of premiums on actual health care costs, rising to 85% for large group plans.[88] On September 30, 2013, Franken voted to remove a provision that would repeal the medical device tax in Obamacare from a government funding bill,[89][90] saying that though he supported the provision, he disagreed with its being used as a condition for preventing the 2013 federal government shutdown.[91]

Citing the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, Franken introduced a limit to the arbitration policy of the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that withheld defense contracts from companies that restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery, and discrimination cases to court. It passed the Senate in November 2010, 68 to 30, in a roll-call vote.[92] [93]

2017AlFranken
Franken in 2017

In May 2010, Franken proposed a financial-reform amendment that created a board to select which credit rating agency would evaluate a given security. At the time, any company issuing a security could select the company that evaluated the security.[94] The amendment was passed, but the financial industry lobbied to have it removed from the final bill.[95] Negotiations between the Senate and House, whose version of financial reform did not include such a provision, resulted in the amendment's being watered down to require only a series of studies being done on the issue for two years.[96] After the studies, if the Securities and Exchange Commission had not implemented another solution to the conflict-of-interest problem, Franken's solution would go into effect.[97][98]

In August 2010, Franken made faces and hand gestures and rolled his eyes while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a speech in opposition to the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.[99][100][101] Franken's actions prompted McConnell to remark, "This isn't Saturday Night Live, Al."[101] After Kagan's confirmation, Franken delivered a handwritten apology to McConnell and issued a public statement saying that McConnell had a right "to give his speech with the presiding officer just listening respectfully."[99]

The National Journal reported in 2013 that Franken supports the National Security Agency's data mining programs, believing they have saved lives, and that "I can assure you, this is not about spying on the American people."[102]

When Franken declared his intention to seek reelection in 2014,[103] his seat was thought to be a top target for the Republicans because of his very slim margin of victory in the previous election. But Politico reported that his high approval rating, his large campaign fund, and the Republicans' struggle to find a top-tier candidate meant he was a "heavy favorite" to win reelection,[104] and Franken won the race comfortably.

The Associated Press has noted that contrary to expectations, Franken has not sought out the media spotlight: "He rarely talks to the Washington press corps, has shed his comedic persona and focused on policy, working to be taken seriously."[105] In interviews he has expressed his desire to be known for a focus on constituency work, keeping his head down, and working hard.[87][106]

Franken has been an effective fundraiser for the Democrats.[107][108][109] By late 2015, his political action committee had raised more than $5 million in donations.[109] In 2016, his PAC raised $3.3 million.[108][110] According to The Star Tribune, Franken has been able to "draw crowds and donations across the country".[107]

Franken condemned the genocide of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and called for a stronger response to the crisis.[111]

Sexual misconduct allegations

On November 16, 2017, Leeann Tweeden alleged in a blog post and an interview with her radio station, 790 KABC, that Franken forcibly kissed her on a 2006 USO tour during a rehearsal for a skit. She wrote, "I said 'OK' so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth."[112] She said she pushed him away, feeling "disgusted and violated".[112] Franken was also photographed appearing to place his hands above or on her breasts while she was asleep on an aircraft wearing body armor and a helmet.[113][114] In response, Franken said, "I certainly don't remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann ... As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it."[115] A few hours later, Franken issued a longer apology,[116] which Tweeden accepted.[117]

On November 20, 2017, a 33-year-old woman named Lindsay Menz accused Franken of touching her clothed buttocks while they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.[118] In a statement responding to the allegation, Franken said, "I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture. I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected."[119]

On November 22, 2017, Huffington Post reported that two additional women who insisted upon anonymity said that Franken had subjected them to very similar misconduct during political events in 2007 and 2008 (before he took office), incidents Franken also said he did not remember.[120] Franken issued another apology on November 23, 2017, stating, "I've met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I'm a warm person; I hug people. I've learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many."[121]

On November 30, 2017, Jezebel reported that another anonymous woman said that after she was a guest on Franken's radio show in 2006, Franken leaned in toward her face during a handshake and gave her "a wet, open-mouthed kiss" on the cheek when she turned away.[122][123] That same day, an army veteran named Stephanie Kemplin told CNN that Franken held the side of her breast for 5 to 10 seconds "and never moved his hand" while posing for a photograph[124] with her during a 2003 USO tour in Iraq.[125]

Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer sent Tweeden's accusations to the Senate Ethics Committee for review, a decision supported by members of both parties, including Franken himself.[114] On November 30, the committee announced that it was investigating allegations against Franken.[126][127] Some liberal groups and commentators, including the Indivisible movement and Sally Kohn, called on Franken to resign because of the allegations.[128] On December 6, two more accusations surfaced, one from an anonymous congressional aide about an attempted kiss at his radio show studio,[129] and one by congressional aide Tina Dupuy about Franken allegedly squeezing her waist at a party prior to Franken taking office.[130] More than two dozen Democratic senators, led by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, called on Franken to resign from office before the ethics committee could review the allegations.[131]

Attorney Debra Katz defended Franken against these allegations, arguing that his behavior was that of an entertainer, not a senator.[132]

Resignation

On December 7, 2017, Franken announced his intention to resign his Senate seat.[133] He called some of the accusations “simply not true” and said he remembered others “very differently.”[134] In his resignation speech he made comparisons to Republican politicians, saying he was "aware of the irony" that President Trump remained in office despite the comments Trump made in the Access Hollywood tape released a month before his election, and that the Republican Party supported Roy Moore's Senate campaign despite the many allegations of harassment and molestation against Moore.[135] Franken resigned on January 2, 2018, and Minnesota governor Mark Dayton appointed the lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, to Franken’s seat until a special election in November 2018, which Smith won.[136]

Committee assignments

Personal life

Franken met his wife, Franni Bryson, in his first year at Harvard. In 2005, they moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota.[137] Together they have two children. Their daughter, Thomasin,[5] has degrees from Harvard and the French Culinary Institute; she is the director of extended learning at DC Prep, an organization in Washington, D.C., that manages charter schools.[138] Their son, Joseph, works in the finance industry.[5] Franken is a second cousin of the actor Steve Franken, known for his appearances in the television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.[139] In 2013, Franken received the Stewart B. McKinney Award for his work fighting homelessness.[140]

Works

The following are works authored by Al Franken.

  • Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations (Delacorte Press, 1996) ISBN 0-385-31474-4
  • Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency (Delacorte Press, 1999) ISBN 0-385-31809-X
  • Oh, the Things I Know!: A Guide to Success, or Failing That, Happiness (Plume Books, 2003) ISBN 0-452-28450-3
  • Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (Dutton Books, 2003) ISBN 0-525-94764-7
  • The Truth (With Jokes) (Dutton Books, 2005) ISBN 0-525-94906-2
  • Al Franken, Giant of the Senate (Grand Central Publishing, 2017) ISBN 1455540412

Filmography

Year Work Writer Actor Cameo Notes
1976 Tunnel Vision Yes Role: Al
1977–1980 Saturday Night Live Yes Yes Yes
1977 The Paul Simon Special Yes
1978 All You Need is Cash Yes Role: Extra
1981 Grateful Dead: Dead Ahead Yes Yes Concert video
Role: Host
1981 Steve Martin's Best Show Ever Yes
1981 Bob and Ray, Jane, Laraine and Gilda Yes
1981 The Coneheads Yes
1983 Trading Places Yes Role: Baggage handler
1984 Franken and Davis at Stockton State Yes
1984 The New Show Yes
1986 Saturday Night Live Yes Yes Yes
1986 One More Saturday Night Yes Yes Role: Paul Flum
1988–1995 Saturday Night Live Yes Yes Yes
1994 When a Man Loves a Woman Yes
1995 Stuart Saves His Family Yes Yes Role: Stuart Smalley
1997 3rd Rock from the Sun Yes Episode: "Dick the Vote"
1997 The Larry Sanders Show Yes Episode: "The Roast"
1998-1999 LateLine Yes Yes Yes
1998 From the Earth to the Moon Yes TV miniseries
Role: Jerome Wiesner
2002 Harvard Man Yes
2004 Outfoxed Yes Role: Air America host
2004 The Manchurian Candidate Yes
2004–2007 The Al Franken Show Yes Yes Host of radio talk show
2004 Tanner on Tanner Yes
2006 Al Franken: God Spoke Yes Documentary
2011 Hot Coffee Yes Documentary

Electoral history

2008

2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate Democratic–Farmer–Labor primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
DFL Al Franken 164,136 65.34%
DFL Priscilla Lord Faris 74,655 29.72%
DFL "Dick" Franson 3,923 1.56%
DFL Bob Larson 3,152 1.25%
DFL Rob Fitzgerald 3,095 1.23%
DFL Ole Savior 1,227 0.49%
DFL Alve Erickson 1,017 0.40%
2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate election[141][142]
Party Candidate Votes %
DFL Al Franken 1,212,629 41.994%
Republican Norm Coleman (incumbent) 1,212,317 41.983%
Independence Dean Barkley 437,505 15.151%
Libertarian Charles Aldrich 13,923 0.482%
Constitution James Niemackl 8,907 0.308%
Write-ins 2,365 0.082%
Margin of victory 312 0.011%
Total votes 2,887,646 100

2014

2014 Minnesota U.S. Senate Democratic–Farmer–Labor primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
DFL Al Franken (incumbent) 182,720 94.50%
DFL Sandra Henningsgard 10,627 5.50%
2014 Minnesota U.S. Senate election[143]
Party Candidate Votes %
DFL Al Franken (incumbent) 1,053,205 53.15
Republican Mike McFadden 850,227 42.91
Independence Steve Carlson 47,530 2.4
Libertarian Heather Johnson 29,685 1.5
Write-ins Others 881 0.04
Margin of victory 202,978 10.24%
Total votes 1,981,528 100
DFL hold

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Franken was elected to the term beginning January 3, 2009, but did not take his seat until July 7, 2009, because of a recount and a subsequent election challenge.

References

  1. ^ "Phoebe Kunst". Geni. Geni. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Ancestry of Al Franken". William Addams Reitwiesner. Archived from the original on March 8, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  3. ^ "Al Franken". Jewish Virtual Library. Archived from the original on February 10, 2017. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  4. ^ "Meet Al". Archived from the original on February 7, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Colapinto, John. "Enter Laughing". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  6. ^ Liebovich, Mark (December 13, 2016). "Al Franken Faces Donald Trump and the Next Four Years". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 13, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2016. At 65, Franken retains the thick build of the high-school wrestler he once was.
  7. ^ White, Deborah. "Profile of Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota". About.com. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved January 30, 2009.
  8. ^ "CNN Newsnight Aaron Brown". CNN. April 29, 2002. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008. Retrieved November 5, 2008.
  9. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (July 19, 2012). "Tom Davis, Comedian and 'SNL' Sketch Writer, Dies at 59". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 12, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  10. ^ Davis, Tom (2010). Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss: The Early Days of SNL from Someone Who Was There. Grove Press; Reprint edition. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-8021-4456-0.
  11. ^ Hill, Doug; Weingrad, Jeff (1987). Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live p. 57. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-394-75053-5.
  12. ^ a b Kornbluth, Jesse (March–April 2012). "Al Franken: You Can Call Me Senator". Harvard Magazine. Archived from the original on September 26, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
  13. ^ Shales, Tom (2003). Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told by Its Stars, Writers and Guests. p. 191. Back Bay Books. ISBN 0-316-73565-5.
  14. ^ Cox, Ana Marie (April 5, 2007). "Don't Laugh at Al Franken". Time. Archived from the original on September 19, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  15. ^ Westfall, Sandra Sobieraj (May 26, 2017). "Al Franken Says John Belushi's Fatal Overdose Inspired Him to Give Up Drugs". People. Archived from the original on July 20, 2017.
  16. ^ Spano, Wy (2010). A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Senate: Franken vs. Coleman and the Decline and Fall of Civilized Politics. p. 51. Zenith Press. ISBN 0-7603-3902-3.
  17. ^ Leopold, Todd (May 7, 2002). "Al Franken's Guide to Life". CNN. Archived from the original on September 3, 2014. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  18. ^ "'Stuart Saves His Family'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 5, 2014. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  19. ^ "Stuart Saves His Family (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  20. ^ Howe, Desson (April 14, 1995). "'Stuart Saves His Family' (PG-13)". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 4, 2014. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  21. ^ Siskel, Gene (April 14, 1995). "'Stuart' Funny Without Making Fun of Self-Help Movement". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 3, 2014. Retrieved August 31, 2014.
  22. ^ Powers, Retha (2005). This Is My Best: Great Writers Share Their Favorite Work (Paperback ed.). Chronicle Books. p. 549. ISBN 978-0-8118-4829-9.
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External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Andrew Smith
Head Writer of Saturday Night Live
1985–1986
Served alongside: Tom Davis
Succeeded by
Jim Downey
Preceded by
Bob Tischler
Party political offices
Preceded by
Walter Mondale
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Minnesota
(Class 2)

2008, 2014
Succeeded by
Tina Smith
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Norm Coleman
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Minnesota
2009–2018
Served alongside: Amy Klobuchar
Succeeded by
Tina Smith
2008 United States Senate election in Minnesota

The 2008 United States Senate election in Minnesota took place on November 4, 2008. After a legal battle lasting over eight months, the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) candidate, Al Franken, defeated Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in one of the closest elections in the history of the Senate. Franken took his oath of office on July 7, 2009, more than half a year after the end of Coleman's term on January 3, 2009.When the initial count was completed on November 18, Franken was trailing Coleman by 215 votes. The close margin triggered a mandatory recount. After reviewing ballots that had been challenged during the recount and counting 953 wrongly rejected absentee ballots, the State Canvassing Board officially certified the recount results with Franken holding a 225-vote lead.On January 6, 2009, Coleman's campaign filed an election contest and on April 13, a three-judge panel dismissed Coleman's Notice of Contest and ruled that Franken had won the election by 312 votes. Coleman's appeal of the panel's decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court was unanimously rejected on June 30, and he subsequently conceded the election. Franken was sworn in as the junior Senator from Minnesota on July 7.

2014 United States Senate election in Minnesota

The 2014 United States Senate election in Minnesota was held on November 4, 2014, to elect a member of the United States Senate to represent the State of Minnesota, concurrently with the election of the Governor of Minnesota, as well as other elections to the United States Senate in other states and elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections.

Incumbent Democratic–Farmer–Labor Senator Al Franken ran for re-election to a second term. Primary elections were held on August 12, 2014, in which Franken was renominated and the Republicans picked financial executive Mike McFadden. In the general election, Franken defeated him and Independence Party nominee Steve Carlson and Heather Johnson of the Libertarian Party with 53% of the vote.

A Limo For A Lame-O

"A Limo For A Lame-O" is a commentary delivered by Al Franken during Weekend Update on the May 10, 1980, episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL). Using the framework of his own desire to have a limousine drive him to and from his job at NBC, the network which broadcasts the program, Franken attacked network president Fred Silverman for NBC's poor showing in the Nielsen ratings during his tenure. It has been called "one of the meanest acts of character assassination in—well, the history of mean acts of character assassination."Silverman, who had not been informed of the commentary beforehand due to a series of communication failures, was furious. He believed that SNL producer Lorne Michaels, who was in the midst of negotiating a new contract, had orchestrated it as revenge for Silverman's failure to attend a meeting with Michaels to discuss those talks the previous day. After hundreds of letters and postcards were delivered to Silverman's office the following Monday, he refused to accept a letter of apology offered by Franken, whom he said later he had never liked to begin with.The commentary, and Silverman's reaction to it, had several effects on the show. Michaels and many of the people associated with the show were emotionally exhausted after five seasons, and he had planned for almost everyone to take some time off. Since the show had been one of NBC's few successes under Silverman, the network wanted it to continue that fall. Franken and his writing partner Tom Davis, with Michaels' support, had expressed interest in producing the show while Michaels served as its executive producer. NBC executives were also hoping they could persuade Michaels to stay, an option he was still open to if the contractual provisions he wanted were offered.After Franken's commentary, he and Davis lost any chance they had had of succeeding Michaels as producer. NBC also assumed Michaels was not interested in continuing and began making plans for a future SNL without him. This led to Jean Doumanian, one of the show's associate producers from its inception but never involved in the writing process, being hired to replace Michaels, a decision kept from him since he believed any new producer should have been involved in the writing aspect of the show. She oversaw a wholesale replacement of the cast and writing staff, and was fired before the end of the next season, called the worst in the show's history by author Brian Finamore.

Air America (radio network)

Air America (formerly Air America Radio and Air America Media) was an American radio network specializing in progressive talk radio. It was on the air from March 2004 to January 2010.

The network featured programs with monologues by on-air personalities, guest interviews, call-ins from listeners, and news reports. Several shows had million plus audiences, and multiple weekday presenters continued on in radio, television, or politics after their time on Air America. For example, in 2008, The Thom Hartmann Program had 1.5–2 million unique listeners a week and The Lionel Show had 1.5–1.75 million unique listeners a week. Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, and Mike Malloy later had shows on other radio networks. Marc Maron started his" WTF podcast" by trespassing in Air America's studios after the network's demise, before moving to Los Angeles. Al Franken went from his show to the United States Senate, and Rachel Maddow moved her show to television on the MSNBC network.

The network was financially troubled, however. A scandal involving nearly $1 million in loans from a Boys & Girls Club in New York secretly transacted by Evan Cohen came out in 2005 and was a source of negative publicity. The loans were repaid, but in October 2006, mounting debts forced Air America Radio to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company was bought by New York real estate investor Stephen L. Green and his brother Mark J. Green, who purchased the network in March 2007 for US$4.25 million.The company eventually changed its name from Air America Radio to Air America Media and lastly to just Air America, an effort to establish itself as a broadcaster on multiple media sources including television and the Internet, and one not merely relegated to radio. Always primarily a radio network, on January 21, 2010, Air America went off the air citing difficulties with the current economic environment. It filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and liquidated itself. Bennett Zier was the company's last CEO including through the bankruptcy and liquidation.

LateLine

LateLine is an American television sitcom that premiered on NBC on March 17, 1998. The series concluded on March 16, 1999, with seven episodes left unaired due to an abrupt cancellation. Three of the unaired episodes were telecast by the Showtime cable network in December 1999.

Created by John Markus and Al Franken (the latter of whom co-starred in the series), LateLine depicted the behind-the-scenes goings-on of a fictitious late-night television news broadcast, patterned in part after the long-running ABC program Nightline. Many plotlines in the series were satirical, dealing with topics like Deep Throat and the Watergate break-in, and the episodes often had cameos by famous politicians.

Leeann Tweeden

Leeann Velez Tweeden (born June 13, 1973) is an American radio broadcaster, model and sports commentator. Since February 2017, she has been the news anchor for McIntyre in the Morning on Radio 790 KABC in Los Angeles.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them is a satirical book on American politics by Al Franken, a comedian, political commentator, and politician. It was published in 2003 by Dutton Penguin. Franken had a study group of 14 Harvard graduate students known as "TeamFranken" to help him with the research. The book's subtitle, A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, is a parody of Fox News' tagline "Fair and Balanced." Fox sued Franken over the use of the phrase in a short-lived and unsuccessful lawsuit, which has been credited with increasing the sales of the book, an example of the Streisand effect.Lies is one of several books published in 2003 written by American liberals challenging the viewpoints of conservatives such as Bernard Goldberg, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter. These books by Franken and fellow authors such as Joe Conason, Michael Moore and Jim Hightower were described by columnist Molly Ivins as the "great liberal backlash of 2003."

List of Saturday Night Live writers

The following is a list of Saturday Night Live writers. The show, created by Lorne Michaels is an American live sketch comedy and variety show. The show, which has aired since 1975, has employed a large and changing staff of writers.

One More Saturday Night (film)

One More Saturday Night is a 1986 comedy film written by Al Franken and Tom Davis and directed by Dennis Klein.

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations (ISBN 0-385-31474-4) is a 1996 American book by Al Franken. It is satirically critical of 1990s right-wing political figures such as Pat Buchanan, Bob Dole, Phil Gramm, Newt Gingrich, and particularly radio host Rush Limbaugh. Franken often makes his points through humor, including the use of graphs with his handwriting superimposed over them.

The book ranked #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, February 25, 1996.Franken has said that he chose to make the book's title an ad hominem attack as "an ironic comment on the fact that Rush makes ad hominem attacks all the time". Franken cited, for example, Limbaugh's attack on Chelsea Clinton, whom Limbaugh had described as "the White House dog". Franken said his motivation for writing the book was the rise of Newt Gingrich, who used Limbaugh as "his mouthpiece".The audiobook version won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Comedy Album.

Saturday Night Live (season 5)

The fifth season of Saturday Night Live, an American sketch comedy series, originally aired in the United States on NBC between October 13, 1979, and May 24, 1980.

This season was the first to have two members of the same family as cast members (Bill Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray).

This would be the final season for everyone in the cast. Tom Davis and Downey would return to the show in future seasons as writers. Al Franken, Doyle-Murray, Novello, and Shearer would rejoin the cast in future seasons (Franken would also return as a writer).

Stuart Saves His Family

Stuart Saves His Family is a 1995 American comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, and based on a series of Saturday Night Live sketches from the early to mid-1990s. The film follows the adventures of would-be self-help guru Stuart Smalley, a creation of comedian Al Franken, as he attempts to save both his deeply troubled family and his low-rated public-access television show. Some of the plot is inspired by Franken's book, I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!: Daily Affirmations by Stuart Smalley.

The film was produced by Lorne Michaels. Co-stars include Laura San Giacomo, Vincent D'Onofrio, Shirley Knight, Lesley Boone and Harris Yulin. Julia Sweeney, Joe Flaherty, Robin Duke, Richard Riehle, future WWE ring announcer Justin Roberts and Kurt Fuller have cameo roles.

Stuart Smalley

Stuart Smalley is a fictional character invented and performed by comedian and satirist Al Franken. The character originated on the television show Saturday Night Live, in a mock self-help show called "Daily Affirmations With Stuart Smalley." It first aired on the show's February 9, 1991 episode hosted by Kevin Bacon. Stuart is Franken's middle name. Franken has stated that his "going to Al-Anon meetings inspired [the character] Stuart [Smalley]". (He attended the meetings in support of his wife, who was battling alcoholism at the time.)

The Al Franken Show

The Al Franken Show is the flagship talk show of the former talk radio network, Air America Radio. Hosted by Al Franken, it featured commentary and interviews arguing for left-wing positions on the issues of the day, and comically poking fun at the George W. Bush Administration. The show began as The O'Franken Factor on March 31, 2004. Between January 3, 2006, and February 14, 2007, the show was recorded and broadcast from the 28th floor of the historic Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. Prior to that date it was based in New York City. The final show was broadcast on February 14, 2007, the day Franken announced his candidacy for the United States Senate in 2008.

Franken is a comedian, satirist and former United States Senator who has written several books, including the 2003 Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. He was a writer and performer on Saturday Night Live, where he usually teamed with fellow writer/performer Tom Davis.

Tina Smith

Christine Elizabeth "Tina" Flint Smith (born March 4, 1958) is an American politician and former businesswoman serving as the junior United States senator from Minnesota since 2018, filling the seat vacated by Al Franken. She is a member of the Minnesota Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL), an affiliate of the Democratic Party. Smith served as the 48th lieutenant governor of Minnesota from 2015 to 2018, when she was appointed to serve as a U.S. Senator for the state. Smith won the 2018 special election, defeating the Republican nominee, Minnesota State Senator Karin Housley.

Tom Davis (comedian)

Thomas James "Tom" Davis (August 13, 1952 – July 19, 2012) was an American writer, comedian, and author. He is best known for his comedy partnership with Al Franken, as half of the comedy duo "Franken & Davis" on the Saturday Night Live television show on NBC.

When a Man Loves a Woman (film)

When a Man Loves a Woman is a 1994 American romantic drama film written by Al Franken and Ronald Bass, starring Andy García, Meg Ryan, Tina Majorino, Mae Whitman, Ellen Burstyn, Lauren Tom and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

For her performance as an alcoholic mother, Ryan received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role. The film's title is taken from the song of the same name by Percy Sledge.

Why Not Me? (novel)

Why Not Me? is a 1999 political satire novel by Al Franken.

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