- Al Franken, with his wife Franni at his side, announced that he would go to work for the people of Minnesota, upon his being seated in the U.S. Senate next week. (Photo: Mordecai Specktor)
Al Franken, Minnesota’s new U.S. senator after a recount saga and legal wrangle that stretched out for nearly eight months, stepped out of his downtown Minneapolis townhouse this afternoon and spoke to a throng of reporters, photographers and supporters. He was accompanied by his wife, Franni, and several aides.
“I know there’s been a lot of talk about the fact that when I’m sworn in, I’ll be the 60th member of the Democratic caucus; but that’s not how I see it,” said Franken. “The way I see it, I’m not going to Washington to be the 60th Democratic senator, I’m going to Washington to be the second senator from the state of Minnesota.”
Asked about his phone conversation earlier in the afternoon with Norm Coleman, the former Republican senator who lost to Franken by 312 votes — out of 2.9 million votes cast across the state, Franken said, “It was a very gracious call.” Coleman, according to Franken, advised the new senator that “this is going to be the best job you’ll ever have.”
Franken said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told him that he will serve on the Health, Education and Pensions Committee; and the Judiciary, Indian Affairs, and Aging committees.
It is expected that Franken will be sworn in early next week, after the Fourth of July holiday.
— Mordecai Specktor
Update / July 1, 2009
In a JTA story about Franken’s victory in the Minnesota Senate race, Eric Fingerhut points out that with “Coleman’s defeat and the decision by Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter to join the Democratic caucus, the Senate now has no Jewish Republican members. The House of Representatives has one Jewish GOPer, Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.
He adds: “More specifically, for the first time in decades, a moderate GOP Jewish voice — embodied over the years not only by Specter but also Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota, Warren Rudman of New Hampshire and the late Jacob Javits of New York — will be absent from the Senate.”
Fingerhut called the American Jewish World yesterday, asking about Franken’s views on Israel. His article quotes some relevant statements by Franken from Erin Elliott’s AJW story in our Feb. 1, 2008 edition.