Excerpts from recent Minnesota editorials
With spotlight on, Minnesotans realize their 2008 Franken fears
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., on Thursday issued an apology to the citizens of Minnesota over allegations of his sexual misconduct with four women.
A rising political star in January, Franken was among a handful of progressive Democrats routinely mentioned as a viable presidential candidate in 2020. He had it what took, they said: Name recognition, solid Democratic credentials, experience in the Senate and the wit to hold his own the debate stage and public light.
Fast forward to November and the senator is reeling from a scandal that he allegedly groped four women — one as comedian and three as a first-term senator or during his first campaign for Senate. Instead of building on his rising political profile, Franken is left defending his decision to stay in office three years out of his next re-election cycle. The decision to resign or expel him is a complicated one, and unfortunately heavy in political partisanship. Franken has vowed not to resign and to regain the trust of Minnesotans. But this is a longer road for Franken in particular.
A scandal of this sort was the worst nightmare for Minnesotans — supporters and detractors alike — after the comedian-turned-politician first ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008. He was quickly on the defensive over parodies, old jokes and raunchy comedic writings. He faced questions then on whether he could embarrass the state, the party and the voters.
Franken has proved those fears wrong over the past eight years with a solid work ethic in the Senate, and cruised to re-election in 2016. But his recent misconduct allegations threaten to undo the trust gained in Minnesota voters, and prove that his supporters and opponents were right to question if he would be a sideshow.
Much of Minnesota is left shaking their heads by these accusations, some are embarrassed and others are saying “I told you so” about Franken. (It is fair to point out, however, that harassment and misconduct is an issue not contained to the rich, famous and political — and anyone in public office could face the same allegations).
If Franken does in fact keep his seat through this firestorm and the Senate Ethics Committee, it will be a long road to 2020, where if he decides to seek another term, the primary and general election will be fraught with competition.
It would be wise for the senator to go back to 2008, fly well-below the radar and work in the background for his beleaguered Minnesota constituents.
Mesabi Daily News