John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Obama Undertow Could Sink Franken

Posted on August 13, 2014
Al Franken Official Senate Portrait.jpg

"Al Franken Official Senate Portrait" by Jeff McEvoy, United States Senate Photographer - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

(This originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal's Think Tank)

Keep an eye on Minnesota.

The state that gave us Michele Bachmann and Jesse Ventura just might decide to dump funnyman Al Franken from the Senate.

Most pundits think that challenger Mike McFadden is, at best, a long shot.

I don’t think so.

In several polls the incumbent, a former Saturday Night Live star, can’t break the 50% mark. Given his narrow victory in 2008 (which some say wasn’t a real victory), it’s probably not that surprising that Mr. Franken is still a polarizing figure.

But after six years in the Senate, one might expect that the incumbent would have built a more comfortable cushion for himself.

When I talked to the challenger a couple of months ago, he told me that Mr. Franken is struggling because he never goes home and talks to real people.

Mike McFadden doesn’t have that problem. He talks to everybody. He is a gregarious, friendly guy who doesn’t feel the burdens of celebrity status.

Another reason Mr. McFadden is likely to win: Minnesotans have a history of turning on failing presidents. In 1978, they voted out the two Democrats who represented the state as protest against Jimmy Carter. In 1990, Paul Wellstone beat Rudy Boschwitz amid the George H.W. Bush recession. By 2009, Minnesota was represented by two Democrats, a certain reaction to the George W. Bush presidency.

The Obama undertow will not lift the Franken boat. Instead, it will probably sink it.

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