Al Franken announced this week that he's leaving his show on Air America and thinking about a run for the U.S. Senate. Now sources are telling the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Franken isn't just thinking anymore -- that's he's telling Democratic leaders in Minnesota that he has decided to run against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.
"From his voice to my ears, he's running," one House Democrat from Minnesota tells the Star Tribune through a spokesman.
Franken has been talking about a run against Coleman since at least 2005, when he decided to move his radio show and himself from New York back to the state where he grew up. As the Star Tribune reports, he has taken to telling audiences of late that if he were to run, "I'll be the only New York Jew in the race who actually grew up in Minnesota." Coleman grew up in New York.
Can Franken win? His PAC raised more than $1.1 million last year, and no other prominent Democrat has entered the race so far. As for Coleman? New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who helped engineer the Democrats' takeover of the Senate in 2006, recently identified him as one of the three most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in 2008. The other two were New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu and Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard, the latter of whom subsequently said that he won't even be trying to win another term.
No word yet on when Franken will make an official announcement, but Minnesota Republicans aren't waiting for that. The state's party chairman issued a statement Wednesday in which he warned voters away from the comedian's "anger and slash-and-burn partisanship."
Correction: An earlier version of this post said that Franken was born in Minnesota. He was not.