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Can Franken Keep His Cool?

Al Franken is telling members of the Minnesota delegation he's running for Senate against Norm Coleman next year. He might be a very formidable candidate, or he might end up joining Howard Dean, et al in the political flame out Hall of Fame. At this point I'd say it's a coin flip.

For one thing, Franken is a loose cannon. He's made a living by shooting his off his mouth (at times in very humorous ways), but he doesn't strike me as possessing enough self-discipline to rein things in. Over the course of a long campaign, I can see his seemingly genetic predisposition to irreverence catching up with him at some point.

The other problem is that in between bouts of humor, Franken can come across as angry and condescending - two traits don't wear well with voters over time. He also seems to have a pretty thin skin and could lose his cool, like he did at the 2004 Republican National Convention when he got into a tussle with a producer from the Laura Ingraham show on "radio row:"

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Minnesota is not so blue that Franken can afford to be turning off moderates and independents with any antics, goofy or otherwise.

The Governor's race last November is a good cautionary tale for Franken: in a big Dem year, DFLer Mike Hatch led incumbent Republican Tim Pawlenty by a slim margin all the way to the end of the race until Hatch mishandled a last minute brouhaha concerning his running mate's inability to answer a question about E85 (a blend of ethanol). Angered by repeated questions, Hatch lashed out at reporters, calling one a Republican "whore." He ended up losing the race by 22,483 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast.

So will Franken be able to keep his cool? Like I said, the betting line is probably even money.