Al Franken used to be a comedy guy, something that he's been underplaying in his new-ish career in the Senate. And while a big Politico profile of the freshman Minnesota Democrat has noted that Franken is "coming out of his shell" as he faces re-election, he's already lost the wacky campaign ad contest to a Republican hopeful challenger, Mike McFadden.
Quick note about comedy: McFadden's ads are not funny in the way that Al Franken is funny. Franken knows how to write jokes. He is naturally funny. Look. McFadden knows how to be wacky-funny, perhaps as a life-long performance piece, or perhaps just for the campaign trail. It might not be the best campaign strategy, but we like it. Here is McFadden and his son Conor, talking about how this one time the Republican candidate used some scissors to take stitches out of his son's body because he did not want to pay $100 to have a doctor do it. This anecdote means that McFadden is qualified to go to Congress and reform health care.
And here's another McFadden ad, where a guy, representing Franken, takes a bunch of crappy hockey slapshots that miss the net, representing all of Franken's policies. Then McFadden skates up, promises to "shoot straight" and puts a puck into the back of the net, either thanks to his hockey skills or to editing (we wouldn't dare insinuate that a Minnesotan doesn't know how to play hockey, so we'll leave the decision up to you, readers):
For comparison, here is Al Franken's latest campaign ad, via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
As the paper explains, the ad is meant to highlight Franken's "legislation that invests in partnerships between manufacturing companies and community colleges to train workers to fill high-skilled jobs." Boring? Yeah, sure. Why didn't Franken bring scissors to fix jobs?
Based on polling, Franken is expected to win re-election against whichever Republican ends up challenging him in November, but it's far from a sure thing. McFadden, the frontrunner among the handful of GOP hopefuls heading into the summer primaries, seems to be the state GOP's best shot (ha ha) at getting Franken out of office. But so far, the former satirist's strategy of coming off as wonky and serious as possible has paid off: as MinnPost reported, Republicans couldn't wait to get another chance to challenge Franken after his very narrow election for his first term, but have backed off on that eagerness in the ensuing years.
For his part, McFadden seems to be having some trouble keeping the Tea Party groups in the state happy. Last week, he announced plans to visit one such group that has previously called him a "phony."