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Franken sees himself as the ‘people’s proxy’

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July 7, 2009

Democrat Al Franken, who is finally being sworn in Tuesday as Minnesota’s junior senator, wants to serve as a "people’s proxy" during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Franken is joining the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to begin hearings next week on President Barack Obama’s first nominee to the high court.

"As someone who will have been in the committee a grand total of six days and isn’t an attorney I kind of see myself fulfilling a certain role for Americans watching the hearings," Franken said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press.

"So I kind of see myself as people’s proxy, not that the other senators aren’t, but certainly that’s the kind of role I want to play," he said.

Franken would not reveal what he wanted to ask Sotomayor and remained coy about whether he would vote for confirmation, although Democrats believe he is a near-certain vote in her favor.

Franken, speaking with the AP inside a small office in the headquarters of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said he will be sworn in with a Bible from the family of the late Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone.

Franken said he is looking forward to thanking his Democratic Senate colleagues and putting a draining two-year campaign behind him.

"Tomorrow is going to be an awfully emotional day," he said.

The swearing-in will cap a remarkable transformation for Franken. The former "Saturday Night Live" performer, satirist and radio host grew up in Minnesota and moved back to the state in 2005, steadily preparing himself for a Senate run.

That race ended eight months after Election Day when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in his favor after a protracted recount and his opponent, former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman, conceded.

Franken said that while he is still garnering attention for his career as a comic, he expects the publicity to die down once he is able to establish himself in the Senate.

"I think they’ll get to used to the idea that I’m a senator, that I’ve kind of changed careers," Franken said. "I just don’t think it will take that long. They’ll see what I do and what I say. Mainly I’m going to put my head down and get to work."

Franken spent Monday easing into life his new life in Washington. He met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., spoke briefly to reporters on Capitol Hill, and met with his staff and with other officials in Washington.

He was also able to spend time with his family, including his wife, Franni, and two adult children who traveled by train to Washington on Monday. They are expected to be at his swearing-in, where Franken will be escorted by former Vice President Walter Mondale, a native of Minnesota who served in the Senate.

7 Responses to Franken sees himself as the ‘people’s proxy’

  1. griff

    July 7, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Yeah, they all see themselves as the People’s Proxies at first. Then the lobbyists come-a-knockin’.

  2. Janice

    July 7, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    If Senator Franken does model his political career after Paul Wellstone, he will be a great sentaor who is not swayed by power or money. I’m thrilled that Al Franken finally made it to the senate, and even more thrilled that Norm Coleman is history.

  3. griff

    July 8, 2009 at 12:23 am

    If Franken models his political career after Wellstone then he’ll end up like Wellstone.

  4. Janice

    July 8, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    That’s in the back of our minds. Paul Wellstone was one of the really honest politicians – and that doesn’t sit well in Washington.

  5. griff

    July 9, 2009 at 4:03 am

    Sure don’t.

  6. woody188

    July 9, 2009 at 2:09 am

    He’ll get the Ron Paul treatment. None of them will take the Junior Senator comedian seriously and will act like he is crazy.

    Or he’s just the latest actor to take the stage and all us hopeless romantics are suckered in again by the empty promises from a broken system.

    Are you on the red or the blue pill?

  7. griff

    July 9, 2009 at 4:04 am

    Yep.