Al Franken proved himself to be a terrible candidate for the Minnesota Senate seat held by incumbent Republican Norm Coleman in the run-up to the 2008 election. Franken had titled the memoir of his fictitious presidential campaign Why Not Me? That question could have been the theme of his real Senate campaign as well.
Franken is a man of the hard left, but that isn’t necessarily disqualifying in the land of 10,000 loons. Among other things, however, Franken had a history of cocaine use that he had bragged about for the oral history Live From New York. The book quoted Franken speaking openly about using cocaine while pulling all nighters writing for Saturday Night Live (pages 119-120): “I only did cocaine to stay awake to make sure nobody else did too much cocaine. That was the only reason I ever did it. Heh heh.” He thought it was funny.
Franken was discussing his cocaine use during his first stint writing for the show from 1976-1980, a relatively long time ago. The jocular attitude he expressed toward his drug use would have occurred in his comments for the book (published in 2002), considerably more recently. I may be wrong, incidentally, but I don’t recall that this little item was ever explored by anyone covering the campaign in the Minnesota press.
The press nevertheless did report a few items of interest about Franken. It turned out that Franken had failed to pay workers’ compensation insurance in New York where he had been making a living before he returned to Minnesota to run for office. He had also failed to file corporate tax returns in California.
In what should have been a final blow to his campaign, the Star Tribune reported that Franken owed $70,000 in back taxes in 17 states. Franken blamed the problem on his accountant and then instructed his accountant not to talk to the press.
When the news broke, Franken hid from the press. One of Franken’s spokesmen explained Franken’s unavailability: “Al spent the week doing an economy tour of the state.”
I should add that Norm Coleman was a formidable opponent. He was in my opinion an excellent Senator with the misfortune of having to run a reelection campaign in an extraordinarily difficult environment for Republicans.
The race was too close to call on election day and a long time thereafter. Franken went on to win the race by a few votes in the recount proceedings that made up the final chapter of the election contest. The Democratic wave of 2008 had carried Franken ashore.
If Al Franken was able to overcome his personal record to become a United States Senator, Christine O’Donnell certainly can. O’Donnell has the additional advantage of having a man who formerly advertised himself as the bearded Marxist for her opponent. His name is Chris Coons. Although he has shaved the beard, I am quite sure that his current views are kissing cousins to the ones he advertised in his college days.
I don’t know why O’Donnell agreed to go on Face the Nation or Fox News Sunday today before canceling her appearances. I think she is well advised to avoid them and make her case directly to the people of Delaware. For some reason, these shows have taken no interest in Coons. He is not scheduled to appear on them or on Meet the Press today.
Delaware is a state even more friendly to Democrats than Minnesota is, but 2010 presents as challenging an environment for Democrats as 2006 and 2008 did for Republicans. O’Donnell’s site reports that she is 92 percent of the way to raising $2,000,000 for her race. The resources necessary to make her case should not be an issue. Christine O’Donnell can win her race against the formerly bearded Marxist and I sincerely hope she does.
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