A St. Paul attorney with an unfamiliar name but a well-known DFL Party pedigree said Monday that she will challenge DFL-endorsed Senate candidate Al Franken in the September primary.

Priscilla Lord Faris, the daughter of former U.S. District Judge Miles Lord, said Monday that she's not convinced that Franken can win despite what she called Republican incumbent Norm Coleman's vulnerability.

Until recently, she had supported Franken and even contributed to his campaign, she said.

"I've been thinking about it for about nine months and wanted to see how the polls were going for Franken," she said. "I've been a supporter; I think he's a great guy, but I don't see much changed in the polls, and my passion is to see that we have a new senator who represents all Minnesotans."

Coleman held a seven-point advantage over Franken in the Star Tribune's Minnesota Poll in May.

Franken campaign officials declined to comment until Lord Faris actually files, which she said she plans to do this morning.

Lord Faris' candidacy came as a surprise on a day when attention was trained on the incipient Senate campaign of former Gov. Jesse Ventura. Lord Faris, 66, has held elected office only once before, when she served on the Sunfish Lake City Council a few years ago. But she said that she has been active in several recent DFL races and that she expects to be able to raise $1 million to $2 million for the primary. "My sister, Virginia [Lord], is a genius at fundraising," she said.

Named one of the state's top lawyers in 2006 and 2007, Lord Faris is managing partner of the St. Paul personal injury firm Faris and Faris, for which her husband, Wayne, is an attorney of counsel. A Minneapolis native, she has taught third grade and special education, worked in commercial real estate, and practiced law for 28 years.

After her son was killed by a drunken driver, she became a passionate advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). She also has two daughters.

Lord Faris said a couple of people who worked on Mark Dayton's 2000 Senate campaign first approached her last winter about running.

"Whoever wins [the primary] will be a much better candidate for having gone through the debates, discussing the issues and framing the issues against Norm Coleman," she said. "I don't think [Franken and I] disagree on many issues. We're talking about electability."

Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455