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Al Franken, One Year Later

Wednesday is the one-year anniversary of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), whose longshot bid in 2008 made for that year’s most expensive and most hard-fought of all Senate races.

By virtue of toning it down, shunning most national media interviews and largely keeping a relatively low profile (although not so low as to pass up a chance to grill Jeff Zucker at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Comcast-NBC Universal merger), Franken is perhaps slightly less polarizing in Minnesota than he was when he first came to office. He knows that were he to make regular appearances on Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, it’d probably help more than hurt given that as a freshman he has to prove that he’s singularly focused on representing the Land of 10,000 Lakes and not milking his star status. He also has won some bipartisan support,including an amendment in the financial reform bill, and also landed a significant provision in healthcare reform. He’s already raising money for his 2014 reelection, as he’s probably going to face a serious challenger.

Two new books are coming this fall that will dissect the Senate race. Zenith Press is publishing “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Senate: Franken vs. Coleman and the Decline and Fall of Civilized Politics,” by political scientist Wy Spano. His book promises to show how the race has “aftershocks bound to linger for the foreseeable future, including during the midterm elections of 2010 and the 2012 reelection bid of Barack Obama.” Meanwhile, Univeristy of Minnesota Press will publishJay Weiner’s This is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount.”

What hasn’t happened, however, is a flood of entertainers and pundits entering the political arena, emboldened by Franken’s success, despite predictions and various flirtations with the idea. The two tomes will show how unlikely it was that Franken got elected (by 312) votes, and undoubtedly will reinforce the point: Don’t quit your regular gig.

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