Franken greeted with 'attaboys' on Range

  • Article by: LARRY OAKES , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 4, 2009 - 8:45 PM

Senator Al Franken snuggled and kissed 4-month-old Heidi Lindula during the Eveleth Fourth of July parade. Franken also attended the Nashwauk, Keewatin, and Biwabik parades.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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While his wife, Franni, stayed in Minneapolis to pack for Washington, Al Franken spent Friday night and Saturday on the Iron Range, marching in six July 4th parades with daughter, Thomasin, 28, and son, Joe, 24, by his side.

"I love being on the Iron Range for the Fourth," the senator-elect said. "It's a great part of the state."

Great especially for him, since his dream of going to the U.S. Senate wouldn't have stood a chance without the voters in the DFL stronghold.

People in the mining towns treated their new senator like a rock star, flagging him to offer congratulations, get their picture taken with him and wish him luck.

In Eveleth on Saturday, a few miles from the spot where Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash in 2002, Franken jogged from one side of the street to the other, trying to shake every outstretched hand.

People repeatedly yelled "Attaboy Al!" and "Finally!" So many yelled the latter that U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D- Chisholm, marching with Franken, though suffering from laryngitis, croaked: "His new name should be 'Finally Franken.'"

Mike Meholenski, of Chisholm, holding his 1-year-old grandson, Levi, used his free hand to pump Franken's. Meholenski made a joking reference to the votes Franken picked up on the Range in the recount, a gain attributed to the failure of old optical scanners to correctly read some ballots.

"You do a good job in Washington, and we'll vote for you a couple hundred more times!" Meholenski quipped.

"You'll do good out there -- I know you will," said Jeanne Olson, of Virginia.

Franken promised as they parted, "I'll do my best."

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