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Minnesota: Franken Snares Two Key Union Endorsements

Comedian Al Franken (D) scored two union endorsements last week for his Senate campaign. The local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and St. Paul Firefighters endorsed Franken last week over his Democratic opponents.

Attorneys Mike Ciresi and Jim Cohen and college professor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer are also vying for the Democratic nod. The winner will take on first-term Sen. Norm Coleman (R).

According to a statement on the union’s Web site, AFSCME Council 5 also screened Ciresi but decided Franken was in a “stronger position to win” the Democratic nomination and general election. AFSCME also pointed to the fact that Franken is a member of four unions.

“Al fits Minnesota; he’s not the right-wing caricature,” Council 5 Executive Director Eliot Seide said. “The Al Franken we know grew up in Minnesota, attended Harvard, authored best-sellers, supported our troops on USO tours and has been married to Franni for 32 years.”

AFSCME Council 5 represents 43,000 employees in the state. The St. Paul Firefighters represents 400 professional firefighters and paramedics in the city.

The state’s Senate race is considered one of the most competitive in the country. Franken has high name identification in the state in part because of his entertainment career, but some political observers question the political baggage he might carry with him into a general election against Coleman.

— Shira Toeplitz