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  Franken, Al
CANDIDATE DETAILS
AffiliationDemocratic  
  2009-07-06  
 
NameAl Franken
Address
St. Louis Park, Minnesota , United States
EmailNone
Websitehttp://alfranken.com/
DonateDonate
Born May 21, 1951
Died Still Living (62 years)
ContributorEric
Last ModifiedPaul
Oct 25, 2013 12:33pm
Tags Jewish - Liberal - Anti-Bush Tax Cuts (Pro-Tax Cut Rollback) - Anti-Death Penalty - Anti-Social Security Privatization - Government Reform - Health Care Reform - Internationalist - Pro-Affirmative Action - Pro-Choice - Pro-Gay Marriage - Pro-Gun control - Pro-Labor - Protectionist - Married - Union Member - Wellstone Action - Judaism - Straight -
InfoYou might know Al Franken as an award-winning satirist and author. You might know him as the host of Air America Radio's "The Al Franken Show," the network's flagship program that helped put progressive talk radio on the map. And if you're a Minnesotan, you might know him from bumping into him at a DFL event or two. Here's how Al got to where he is today.

The Quilting Factory

Born in New York on May 21, 1951, Al moved with his family to Albert Lea, Minnesota at the age of four. Al likes to tell this story about the move.

My dad never graduated high school and never had a career as such, but my mom’s father, my grandpa, owned a quilting factory out East and gave my dad a chance to start up a new factory in Albert Lea. After about two years, the factory failed, and we moved up to the Twin Cities.

Years later, I asked my dad, “Why Albert Lea?” And he said, “Well, your grandfather wanted to open a factory in the Midwest, and the railroad went through Albert Lea.”

So, I asked him, “Why did the factory fail?”

And he said, “Well, it went through Albert Lea, but it wouldn’t stop."

"The Luckiest Kid in the World"

When Joe Franken's quilting factory went under -- as Al likes to say, his dad was a "great guy, but a terrible businessman" -- the family moved to the Twin Cities. Al, his parents, and his brother Owen lived in a two-bedroom, one-bath house in St. Louis Park.

Growing up middle-class in Minnesota back then meant that while the Frankens weren't rich -- his dad ended up getting a job as a printing salesman while his mom worked as a real estate agent -- they had a feeling of security and access to opportunity. As Al puts it, he felt like the luckiest kid in the world.

His good grades got him into Harvard, but his friendship with fellow Minnesotan Tom Davis(Tom grew up in Richfield) and their performances in school and at Dudley Riggs's Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis led him to try his hand at comedy after graduating.

Live from New York

Al and Tom Davis soon caught on with a show called "Saturday Night," splitting a weekly paycheck of $350 as "apprentice writers." Over the next two decades, Al would be awarded five Emmy awards and seven nominations for his work on the show, which you might know as "Saturday Night Live." Al's creations ranged from the silly (a self-help guru named Stuart Smalley) to the bitingly satirical (portraying the Rev. Pat Robertson in mock "debates").

Al also wrote for the big screen, where his screenplays included "When A Man Loves A Woman," a serious take on the family disease of addiction, as well as on television, where he created "Lateline," a send-up of political news programs.

Franni

At a mixer his freshman year, Al met Franni Bryson, a freshman at Simmons.

Franni, he soon learned, hadn't been quite so lucky growing up. Here's how Al tells her family's story:

When she was seventeen months old, her dad – a decorated veteran of World War II – died in a car accident, leaving her mother, my mother-in-law, widowed with five kids.

My mother-in-law worked in the produce department of a grocery store, but that family made it because of Social Security survivor benefits. Sometimes there wasn’t enough food on the table, sometimes they turned off the heat in the winter – this was in Portland, Maine, almost as cold as Minnesota – but they made it.

Every single one of the four girls in Franni’s family went to college, thanks to Pell Grants and other scholarships. My brother-in-law, Neil, went into the Coast Guard, where he became an electrical engineer.

And my mother-in-law got herself a $300 GI loan to fix her roof, and used the money instead to go to the University of Maine. She became a grade school teacher, teaching Title One kids – poor kids – and so her loan was forgiven.

My mother-in-law and every single one of those five kids became a productive member of society. Conservatives like to say that people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps – and that’s a great idea. But first, you’ve got to have the boots. And the government gave my wife’s family the boots.

They've been married for over 32 years, "many of them happy," as Al likes to joke. They have two kids. Thomasin, 27, graduated from Harvard and became a teacher, working in a public elementary school in the Bronx. Joe (named after Al's dad), 23, is a recent graduate from Princeton with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Saying What Needed to be Said

When Al left "Saturday Night Live" in 1995, Newt Gingrich's Republican Congress had just taken power. Although Al had refrained from injecting his own politics into his work as a comedian, watching these Republicans and their obnoxious radio mouthpiece, Rush Limbaugh, take aim at Al's core values was too much for him to let stand.

So, he used his wit as a weapon, penning "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot (and other observations)." The book rocketed to #1 on the New York Times best-seller list and inspired a very different kind of reaction from Al's fans. As Al puts it:

Making people laugh is the best thing in the world. But when I wrote the Rush book, people would come up to me and say, "Thank you. Thank you for saying what needed to be said." And that was really something.

In 2003, with George W. Bush in the White House and another Republican Congress once again using its media mouthpieces to hold power, Al was named a fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics, and Public Policy. There he wrote his next #1 New York Times best-seller, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." In 2005, he followed with another #1 New York Times best-seller, "The Truth (with jokes)."

"The Al Franken Show is on the Air!"

On March 31, 2004, a brand new part of the progressive movement celebrated its first day on the air. Air America Radio was the first progressive talk radio network, and Al was its first star. Broadcasting live, three hours a day, five days a week, Al figured he might as well learn from the experience. So in addition to his own famous wit and passion, the show featured experts in domestic and foreign policy, national and world leaders, and issues ranging from the cost of prescription drugs to the war in Iraq to the Bush administration's misuse of scientific research.

The show reached over 1.5 million unique listeners per week, and Al was soon ranked among the most influential radio talkers in the country, quite an achievement given the conservative bent of established hosts. In addition, Al continued to be in high demand as a speaker at Democratic functions around the country, especially back in his native Minnesota.

Al and the USO

Al has visited our troops overseas with the USO seven times. He's been to Iraq four times. These trips are the highlight of his year. Visiting a war zone with the Sergeant Major of the Army is an opportunity to visit with members of the armed services, speak with generals, and see first-hand "how it's going over there."

In 2005, Al wrote about his trip in a photo essay on the Midwest Values PAC website.

"The future belongs to those who are passionate and work hard."

When Al's son went off to Princeton, Al and Franni found themselves empty-nesters and decided to move back to Minnesota. Al's political philosophy had always been informed by his friend and hero, the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, and when he moved home at the end of 2005, he found that the spirit of Wellstonian progressive politics was still very much alive.

Al founded a political action committee, Midwest Values PAC, which raised over $1.1 million for Democrats across Minnesota and around the country. He made more than 50 appearances on behalf of DFLers and local party units in the state in 2006 alone. He was especially inspired by two candidates he met on the campaign trail: Tim Walz, a high school geography teacher whose relentless energy propelled him to an upset victory over a Republican incumbent in the 1st Congressional District (Al stole his "boots" line from Tim); and Amy Klobuchar, whose strong positive message of change helped her follow in the footsteps of Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and Paul Wellstone as she was elected to the United States Senate.

Al closed most of his speeches by quoting Paul Wellstone:

"The future belongs to those who are passionate and work hard." And the harder he worked for DFLers in 2006, the more people asked him if he would take on the challenge of reclaiming Paul's seat in the Senate. When he decided to accept that challenge, Al spoke about it this way:

Americans have never backed away from challenges. And Minnesotans have always led the way. Our state has sent strong, progressive leaders to Washington—from Hubert Humphrey to Walter Mondale to Paul Wellstone, and now to Amy Klobuchar. Minnesota's public servants might not always look and sound like typical politicians, but they stand by their principles and lead by their values.

That's the kind of leader I think we need more of these days, and that's the kind of Senator I'll be.



JOB APPROVAL POLLS
DateFirmApproveDisapproveDon't Know
10/27/2013-10/29/2013 Public Policy Polling (D) 51.00% ( 2.0) 43.00% ( 1.0) 6.00% ( 3.0)
09/10/2012-09/11/2012 Public Policy Polling (D) 49.00% ( 1.0) 42.00% ( 2.0) 9.00% ( 3.0)
05/27/2011-05/30/2011 Public Policy Polling (D) 48.00% ( 3.0) 40.00% ( 2.0) 12.00% ( 1.0)
12/04/2010-12/05/2010 Public Policy Polling (D) 45.00% ( 1.0) 42.00% ( 2.0) 13.00% ( 2.0)
10/27/2010-10/29/2010 Public Policy Polling (D) 44.00% ( 0.0) 44.00% ( 0.0) 11.00% ( 0.0)
03/10/2010-03/10/2010 Rasmussen Reports 50.00% ( 0.0) 46.00% ( 1.0) 3.00% ( 1.0)
01/11/2010-01/11/2010 Rasmussen Reports 50.00% ( 0.0) 47.00% ( 2.0) 4.00% ( 1.0)
11/10/2009-11/10/2009 Rasmussen Reports 50.00% ( 0.0) 45.00% ( 0.0) 5.00% ( 0.0)
09/27/2009-09/28/2009 Survey USA 49.00% ( 4.0) 44.00% ( 3.0) 7.00% ( 6.0)
08/26/2009-08/27/2009 Survey USA 45.00% ( 2.0) 41.00% ( 4.0) 13.00% ( 1.0)

BOOKS
Title Purchase Contributor
Why Not Me?  Purchase COSDem 
Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot  Purchase COSDem 
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right  Purchase COSDem 
Al Franken Is a Buck-Toothed Moron: And Other Observations  Purchase Homegrown Democrat 

EVENTS
Start Date End Date Type Title Contributor

NEWS
Date Category Headline Article Contributor
Nov 23, 2013 08:00am Statement Franken open to individual mandate delay  Article Imperator 
Sep 20, 2013 10:00pm News Senator Al Franken Is Concerned About Apple’s Fingerprint Tech  Article Homegrown Democrat 
Oct 19, 2012 03:55pm Opinion Schlafly: Senate Should Move to Expel Al Franken  Article COSDem 
Jan 24, 2012 11:00am Blog Entry Can Al Franken rebound after supporting PIPA?  Article Picimpalious 
Jul 20, 2011 11:30am General Al Franken Pokes Fun At Focus On The Family Mischaracterizing Study At DOMA Hearing (VIDEO)  Article Homegrown Democrat 
Jun 18, 2011 03:00pm Statement Sen. Al Franken: Congress must vote on Libya  Article Craverguy 
Apr 07, 2011 04:15pm Proposed Legislation Sen. Franken introduces "Pay for War" resolution  Article Craverguy 
Jan 17, 2011 08:05pm Proposed Legislation Franken Backing Anti-Bullying Bill Following Teen Suicides   Article Homegrown Democrat 
Aug 19, 2010 10:50am News Shot fired at Al Franken's condo  Article RP 
Aug 05, 2010 07:00pm Oops Supreme dust up: Franken apologizes to McConnell  Article Penn Con 
Jul 12, 2010 02:05pm Investigation Felons Voting Illegally May Have Put Franken Over the Top in Minnesota, Study Finds  Article Imperator 
May 10, 2010 07:45am Proposed Legislation Franken wants to create mortgage watchdog office  Article Jason 
Feb 04, 2010 10:00pm News Al Franken rips into Axelrod over health care bill in private conference  Article Jason 
Dec 17, 2009 04:35pm News Franken shuts down Lieberman on Senate floor  Article J.R. 
Sep 24, 2009 03:00pm News Al Franken Reads the 4th Amendment to Justice Department Official  Article Blue Wizzrobe 
Sep 08, 2009 06:00pm Video Al Franken Draws The United States Of America  Article kal 
Aug 01, 2009 05:00pm General Franken feuds with T. Boone Pickens  Article kal 
Aug 01, 2009 10:10am Profile A self-professed lover of policy, Franken relishes opportunity to get to work in the Senate  Article Monsieur 
Jul 06, 2009 09:00pm Profile Al Franken: From SNL nerd to crucial U.S. senator  Article Monsieur 
Jul 06, 2009 04:00pm Profile Al Franken: From satirist to senator  Article COSDem 
Jul 01, 2009 02:55pm Speech Franken says 'I'm not going to waste this chance'  Article Craverguy 
Jul 01, 2009 01:15pm News Franken picks Wellstone as his model  Article COSDem 
Jan 10, 2008 04:00pm News Funnyman Franken Faces Serious Challenges in Senate Bid  Article CBlock941 
Dec 17, 2007 01:00pm Profile No Running Jokes Here  Article RP 
Jan 01, 2007 03:40pm Commentary Al Franken: Little miracles, big mess  Article Eric 
Mar 07, 2006 03:00pm News AIR AMERICA TUNED OUT?  Article SC Moose 
Oct 24, 2005 05:00pm Blog Entry On Letterman, Al Franken Jokes About Execution for Treason of Rove, Libby and Bush  Article J.R. 
Aug 02, 2005 07:55am News Franken Unaware Of Ex-Colleague's Alleged Loans  Article Rob Brodner 
Jun 15, 2005 12:00am Profile Comedian for Senator? Don't Laugh  Article None Entered 
Jun 13, 2005 07:35am News AL FRANKEN OVERSTAYS WELCOME AT TALK FEST  Article None Entered 
Mar 23, 2004 12:00am Profile Al Franken, Seriously  Article User 13 

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INFORMATION LINKS
Al Franken: God Spoke  Discuss
RACES
  08/12/2014 MN US Senate - DFL Primary ???
  11/06/2012 Energy Committee Seat 7 Won 100.00% (+100.00%)
  11/04/2008 MN US Senate Won 41.99% (+0.01%)
  09/09/2008 MN US Senate - DFL Primary Won 65.34% (+35.62%)
  06/07/2008 MN US Senate - DFL Convention Won 63.92% (+27.84%)
ENDORSEMENTS
US Secretary of the Interior - Apr 10, 2013 D Sally Jewell
C.I.A. Director - Mar 07, 2013 N John Brennan
MN Amendment 1 (Same-Sex Marriage Ban) - Nov 06, 2012 NO No
MN District 08 - DFL Primary - Aug 14, 2012 D Rick Nolan
MA Treasurer - D Primary - Sep 14, 2010 D Steve Grossman
NY Attorney General - D Primary - Sep 14, 2010 D Sean Coffey
MN Governor - DFL Primary - Aug 10, 2010 DFL Margaret Anderson Kelliher
MN District 6 - DFL Primary - Aug 10, 2010 D Tarryl Clark
Supreme Court - Associate Justice - Aug 05, 2010 D Elena Kagan
Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board - Jan 28, 2010 NPA Reject
Minneapolis Mayor - Nov 03, 2009 DFL R. T. Rybak
Supreme Court - Associate Justice - Aug 06, 2009 I Sonia Sotomayor
MN District 3 - D Primary - Sep 09, 2008 DFL Ashwin Madia
MN District 2 DFL-Primary - Sep 07, 2008 D Steve Sarvi
MN District 01 DFL-Primary - Sep 12, 2006 D Tim Walz
MN District 6 - DFL Primary - Sep 12, 2006 DFL Patty Wetterling
NV US Senate - D Primary - Aug 15, 2006 D Jack Carter
WA Attorney General - D Primary - Sep 14, 2004 D Mark Sidran
NY US Senate - D Primary - Sep 12, 2000 D Hillary Rodham Clinton