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Ex-SNL comic Al Franken running for Senate

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Comedian Al Franken announces bid for U.S. Senate seat
Radio talk show host hopes to unseat Republican Sen. Norm Coleman
• Franken moved back to home state of Minnesota from New York in 2006
• Franken's political action committee raised money for Democratic candidates
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(CNN) -- Outspoken comedian and liberal radio host Al Franken announced Wednesday that he intends to run for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Minnesota.

On his Web site -- alfranken.comexternal link -- the NBC "Saturday Night Live" veteran said he will vie for the seat now held by Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.

Franken also confirmed that he is running for Senate during his final show on the liberal Air America radio network. He announced last month that he was leaving Air Americaexternal link after his February 14 broadcast.

During his announcement, Franken cited the late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone as his political hero. (Watch Franken announce his candidacy Video)

Wellstone, who first won election to the senate in 1990, died in a plane crash shortly before the 2002 elections. Coleman was elected to take his place.

Franken has been a commentator on Air America Radio -- a liberal response to conservative talk radio. He has written several books, including "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot" and "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them." (Other famous faces turned politicos)

"I'm not a typical politician," Franken said in an 8 minute video message on his Web site. "I've spent my career as a comedian. Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical about whether I'm ready for this challenge, and to wonder how seriously I would take the responsibility that I'm asking you to give me."

Franken said he takes such issues seriously because of his background -- growing up in a working-class family that moved from New Jersey to Minnesota when he was 4 years old -- and his wife's family background -- she grew up with a widowed mother and four siblings who lived on Social Security survivor's benefits.

"That's what progressives like me believe the government is there for," he said. "To provide security for middle-class families like the one I grew up in, and opportunity for working poor families like the one [my wife] grew up in."

Franken has said previously that he was considering a bid to unseat Coleman, a moderate Republican and former St. Paul mayor who was elected to the Senate in 2002. During the 2006 midterm election, Franken's political action committee, the Midwest Values PACexternal link, raised money for Democratic candidates across the North Star State.

The Bush administration courted Coleman to run for the Senate. But as the Iraq war has become increasingly unpopular, Coleman has distanced himself from the president. Last month, Coleman became one of a group of GOP senators who came out against Bush's plan to increase U.S. troops in Iraq by more than 20,000.

Franken will be running as a member of Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor party. He is the second celebrity in the past decade to seek political office in Minnesota. In 1999, former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura, representing the Reform Party, defeated Coleman and Attorney General Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III to become governor of the state, serving, as promised, one term.

Franken is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in government. He met his wife, Franni, at a college mixer. They have two children, Thomasin and Joe.

Comedian and radio host Al Franken announced Wednesday he's running for the U.S. Senate.



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