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MN Democrats Torn Over Whether Franken Should Go

National Democrats want Minnesota Sen. Al Franken out of office sooner rather than later. But Minnesota DFLers are torn over whether or not the former funny man should quit, the Star Tribune reports.

Some are “shocked, simply shocked” by the revelations about the ex-comedian whose vulgarity and “jokes” about rape and women they happily overlooked in Franken’s first campaign for office.

Betty Folliard, a former Minnesota lawmaker and women’s rights advocate, called for Franken to resign even before new sexual harassment allegations surfaced Wednesday.

“This issue of sexual harassment is never just one victim, and we’ve seen that play out in Franken’s case,” Folliard said. “It’s time for Gov. Dayton to move forward with an appointment and for the senator to step down. His effectiveness has been diminished.”

Although Folliard said she’s “saddened and sorry” that Franken needs to step down, “we’re moving in the right direction … where we’re saying enough is enough.”

Typically the paper let Sen. Amy Klobuchar off the hook for characteristically dodging the issue, but found plenty of hardcore supporters like DFL donor Lou Frillman willing to vouch for Franken. Not that they approve of the senator’s judgment or actions, mind you.

Frillman said he’s not making excuses for Franken’s behavior and “terrible judgment” regarding the Tweeden incident. But the other allegations still need to be proved, he said. “A lot of women once were burned [as witches] in a panic,” he said.

“Things not proven should be carefully evaluated before anyone starts taking positions … because there’s a larger struggle going on. … We’re in a firestorm nationally — a terrible struggle for democracy, in my opinion.”

Franken’s defenders include former state legislator Phyllis Kahn, who suggested the chastened junior Minnesota senator has learned his lesson.

“Most of these incidents happened before he was in the Senate,” Kahn said. “I have a really hard time believing there aren’t members in Congress who have done much worse than him.”

After all, wealthy benefactor Vance Opperman argues, America needs statesmen like Al Franken now more than ever.

Minneapolis businessman and political donor Vance Opperman is angry. “The so-called liberals are forming their usual circular firing squad and shooting each other. That’s what I’m angry about,” he said, stressing that Franken should not resign.

“We’re in a constant threat to our democracy. Our institutions are under constant attack. We’re being led by a buffoon,” Opperman said. “We desperately need people in Congress and the Senate who are smart and intelligent and who won’t be intimidated. Al Franken is one of those.”

Franken, the “Giant of the Senate”, may have run out of time, but not out of enablers willing to excuse his antics up to his exit stage left.

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