Al Franken falls short in Senate bid

Wed Nov 5, 2008 12:28pm EST
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By Steven Zeitchik

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - He may be good enough and smart enough -- but does he have enough votes?

Long after most races had been decided, the bid of a former "Saturday Night Live" comedian to join the United States Senate remained uncertain Wednesday.

Al Franken's bid to unseat Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota fell short by 571 votes, according to the completed unofficial tally. Coleman secured 42.03 percent of the vote, and Franken 42.01 percent.

Those numbers virtually assured a recount, which according to Minnesota law is triggered if the margin of victory is less than half of 1%, and so the result may not be known for days.

If Franken is able to pull out a victory, it would cap a remarkable transformation of a "Saturday Night Live" icon, famous for characters like the self-affirming Stuart Smalley, to one of the country's most prominent lawmakers.

While actors and performers from Ronald Reagan to Arnold Schwarzanegger to Sonny Bono have made the transition from entertainment to politics, no comedian has made a leap from Hollywood to Capitol Hill.

"It's a lot easier for anyone who isn't a comedian, especially a successful one, because we can't think of these people as anything other than funny," said one Hollywood insider.

And while actors typically can avoid scrutiny from the media and their opponent, comedic personalities offer a glut of material for the opposition to pick over.   Continued...

<p>Al Franken speaks to supporters in St. Paul, Minnesota November 4, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Miller</p>