Last year I went to hear Al Franken on his Midwest Values Tour. It was kind of an odd event, a combination of a comedy show and a partisan screed; it was also a fundraiser for his Midwest Values PAC, and when I bought tickets I had to report the contribution to the FEC. I've gotten on his mailing list. For those of you who don't track it that closely, Franken has been making noises for about four years now that he might be interested in retaking Paul Wellstone's old Senate seat from Norm Coleman. He finally declared his campaign earlier this year, and now is slightly leading the field of DFL candidates for the primary.
Anyways! In theory I wholeheartedly approve. Al is incredibly bright and articulate, has solid positions on the issues, and has been involved in politics for most of his career. At the same time, I have some hesitation. He can come across as very arrogant, and while he has worked well with Republicans in the past (including, oddly Gary Bauer), his recent rhetoric has been kind of poisonous. It's hard to imagine him building coalitions in the Senate. Also, Minnesota had a turbulent experience with its last celebrity candidate when Jesse Ventura won the governor's seat. I wouldn't blame them if they wanted to take a pass on this exciting candidate.
So, when I got my first fundraising letter from him, I was pleased but didn't act on it. My current thinking has been, I'll let the Minnesotans decide whether they're prepared for Senator Franken, and if he wins the DFL nomination, I'll support him in the general election against Coleman. Today I got another letter from him, though, and from the very first words I've been tempted to renege on that decision. The letter opens with "Dear Person I'm Asking for Money." Haha! There's a remarkable honesty there that I haven't seen in any of the (many) fundraising letters I've gotten before, and I think I'll need to donate just to reward his candor.
The letter as a whole is quite good - he covers the expected territory (how hard he's working on his campaign, the progress they're making, and the need for support), but everything is done with a wry, good-natured touch. I won't retype the whole thing here, but I do want to include the very end.
P. S. FEC regulations require that all fundraising letters have post-scripts so that the author can make one last pitch for your hard-earned money. [Boy, he isn't kidding - has it always been that way, or just since I started getting them? -ed.] But I think I've kind of made the point about needing your money pretty effectively in the body of this letter, so I thought I'd fill the space with a plug for barbecue sauce. It's made by the kids at Westbrook Walnut Grove High School in Fulda, Minnesota. I was at a DFL dinner there (it's in the southwestern corner of the state) one night, and they had this amazing pulled pork with "Prairie Smoke" barbecue sauce. That was also the night I learned it's tough to do the whole handshaking thing when you're also trying to eat a pulled pork sandwich.