Democratic Senate candidate claims victory, says he'll go to Washington "soon."
Acknowledging the legal wrangling isn't over, Democrat Al Franken said today he was humbled and proud to be "the next senator from Minnesota."
In a five-minute statement given to two dozen reporters outside his Minneapolis home, Franken said: "I'm ready to go to Washington and get to work just as soon as possible."
He said his "victory is incredibly humbling, not just because it was so narrow."
With a 225-vote lead and a likely legal challenge from Republican Norm Coleman, Franken said "there may be additional legal proceedings related to our recount." But he insisted: "I am in the business of serving the people of Minnesota, and the best way I can serve the people of Minnesota is to focus all my attention and all my energies in getting to work for them."
Franken, who declined to take reporters' questions, addressed the million-plus voters who voted for other candidates, saying: "I didn't win the support of every Minnesotan. I'm going to have to earn it by being a senator who fights for every Minnesotan.
"Whether you voted for me or not, I want every Minnesotan to hear this: I work for you now and I will work hard to earn your confidence."
He praised the recount process and sounded gracious to Coleman.
"Our recount process was long, it was fair, and it was thorough," Franken said. "After 62 days of careful and painstaking hand inspection of nearly 3 million ballots, after hours and hours of hard work by election officials and volunteers across the state, I am proud to stand before you as the next senator from Minnesota."
Franken, with his wife, Franni, at his side, said he hopes to work with Coleman despite their bitter, expensive overtime duel.
"I know this is not an easy day for Norm Coleman and his family, and I know that because Franni and I and our kids had plenty of time over the last couple months to contemplate what this would be like if the election turned out differently."
He credited Coleman for working hard for the state and the nation and said, "I hope to ask for his help to insure that Minnesotans can continue to count on receiving excellent constituent services from their two senators without interruption."
He mentioned the Middle East and economic crises as priorities.
"While the recount process played out," Franken said, "the challenges facing our state and our nation have only grown.
"The tensions in the Middle East are reaching the boiling point, the economy is facing its worst crisis since the Great Depression and Minnesota's middle class is being squeezed harder than ever. It's clear that we all have important work to do.
"For our state, today marked the end of a long process that will forever be a part of Minnesota history. But today is also a beginning. The history of our country will be forever altered by what we do together."
Curt Brown • 612-673-4767