The 2008 Minnesota election for the U.S. Senate, pitting comedian and Democrat Al Franken against incumbent Republican Norm Coleman, was the closest election in U.S. history. In his new book, “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate,” Franken gives all the nitty-gritty details about his campaign, his opponent’s acceptance speech and the eight-month ordeal before Franken took his seat in Washington.
The campaign was nasty, with Coleman’s team taking the humor out of jokes from Franken’s comedy career, a process Franken dubbed the “De-humorizer.”
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee gave Franken a 40 percent chance of winning. By the end of the night Nov. 4, 2008, the candidates were separated by 0.04 percent. Any difference of 0.5 percent or less automatically triggered a recount.
Franken was certified as the winner Jan. 5 despite being behind on Election Night after the public canvassing of more than 1,325 disputed ballots and the counting of 933 absentee ballots that a judge deemed wrongly rejected. But it didn’t end there.
It took six more months, a hearing before a three-judge panel and the case being taken to the Minnesota Supreme Court before all legal remedies were resolved and Franken could be sworn in as the state’s new senator.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer later told Franken that his wife’s commercial, in which she opened up about her alcoholism and told voters how her husband had stood with her through thick and thin, won the election for him.
“There is no question I would have lost the election if Franni had not made that spot,” Franken writes.
While every issue in Franken’s book, from stories he heard on the campaign trail to bills he has worked on as a senator, is serious, he uses his comedic talent to make the book humorous. The subtle humor is the perfect fit for politics today, and I laughed constantly as I read it.
I also learned a lot, such as how a filibuster doesn’t have to be senators talking for hours on end. All the minority leader needs to do is say “I object” when the majority leader asks for unanimous consent to go to a vote.
I was impressed at how Franken knew certain things would not happen by the time his book came out at the end of May, such as Republicans repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and President Donald Trump being removed from office.
Overall, it’s clear to readers how much Franken cares about his constituents and wants to do whatever he can to benefit the residents of Minnesota.