What­ever the Post­marks Say, The Checks Are Made Out to Franken

The Washington Post Sunday - - The Sunday Fix -

He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and, gosh darn it, he can raise the money. Al Franken, that is. Franken, co­me­dian-turned-Se­nate can­di­date, piled up $1.3 mil­lion in con­tri­bu­tions over the first three months of the year — wow­ing neu­tral ob­servers and prov­ing that he is se­ri­ous about his race in Min­nesota against fresh­man Sen. Norm Cole­man (R).

Franken col­lected $300,000 more than Sen. Mary Lan­drieu (D-La.), a top tar­get for Repub­li­cans in 2008, and came within $400,000 of Sen. El­iz­a­beth Dole (R-N.C.). He blew away the $580,000 Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) raised in the first quar­ter of 2005 to win the Se­nate race last year.

“Some have re­ported/opined that Democrats are ‘ner­vous’ about the prospect of an Al Franken can­di­dacy,” read a memo dis­trib­uted by his cam­paign. “Per­haps a bet­ter term would be ‘re­ally, re­ally ex­cited.’ ”

Repub­li­cans have worked to call at­ten­tion to the sources of Franken’s money, ar­gu­ing that he is funded largely by out-of-state lib­er­als with ties to the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try. The po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee Franken cre­ated as a pre­cur­sor to his Se­nate cam­paign re­ceived do­na­tions from such well-known lib­er­als as Bar­bra Streisand, Nora Ephron and Larry David, and Franken re­ceived con­tri­bu­tions from stars such as Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep dur­ing the first three months of his Se­nate can­di­dacy.

But spokes­woman Jess McIn­tosh said that more con­tri­bu­tions were made by Min­nesotans than by res­i­dents of any other state to Franken’s Se­nate ac­count. “The money it­self may not break down that way dol­lar for dol­lar, but Min­nesotans are no­to­ri­ously slow to open their wal­lets in races like this one,” McIn­tosh said.

Nei­ther Cole­man nor Mike Ciresi, who is also run­ning for the Demo­cratic Se­nate nom­i­na­tion, was in­ter­ested in cri­tiquing Franken’s fundrais­ing ef­forts.

“It’s not sur­pris­ing,” said Cole­man cam­paign man­ager Cullen Shee­han, who would add only that “I don’t even know if Franken is go­ing to be the nom­i­nee.” Cole­man col­lected $1.5 mil­lion in the first quar­ter and ended March with nearly $3 mil­lion in the bank.

Ciresi cam­paign man­ager Kerry Gree­ley, who guided Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) to vic­tory last fall, said Franken’s fundrais­ing means only that it is a two-per­son race for the Demo­cratic nod — al­though Ciresi did not ac­tively so­licit cash in the first fundrais­ing quar­ter.

Ciresi “can raise at that level,” Gree­ley in­sisted. “He has the con­nec­tions and his­tory of do­ing so.”

An­other April Fil­ing Rush

Ex­pect a flood of House can­di­dates to for­mally an­nounce their 2008 bids in the next two weeks. Why? The can­di­dates held off fil­ing their of­fi­cial pa­per­work prior to the March 31 first quar­ter fundrais­ing dead­line, hop­ing to avoid the neg­a­tive per­cep­tion that rais­ing a mea­ger amount of cash in the first three months of 2007 could cre­ate. With the sec­ond quar­ter just be­gin­ning, can­di­dates in top tar­geted races will move quickly to be­gin the long fundrais­ing slog. In the past week, Kansas Trea­surer Lynn Jenk­ins (R) has jumped into the race in the Kansas 2nd and 2006 can­di­date Dan Maf­fei (D) has un­veiled his plans for a re­match against Rep. James Walsh (R) in New York’s 25th Dis­trict.

Al Franken’s star-stud­ded donor list in­cludes Bar­bra Streisand, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep and Larry David.

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