Campaign Notebook: Ciresi leaves Senate race; what next?

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Following attorney Mike Ciresi’s departure on Monday from the U.S. Senate race, what happens now?

Ciresi’s withdrawal leaves Al Franken going head-to-head with Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, who has gotten activists excited with his “most important decade” stump speech. But Nelson-Pallmeyer has run into a buzzsaw of heavy Franken support at conventions around the state. Though he has raised less money than Ciresi did, and trails badly on that count, Nelson-Pallmeyer managed to claim second place in the delegate chase even before Ciresi withdrew. Still, the numbers game is working against Nelson-Pallmeyer at this point in the campaign–Franken has won big in the western suburbs, in Minneapolis, in St. Paul, in rural parts of the state, pretty much everywhere.

An informal poll of several well-connected activists revealed few who think the endorsement balloting at the state convention will go past the first ballot. One said there would be plenty of delegates who simply will not want to hand the endorsement to Franken on the first ballot. Another said that Franken and Nelson-Pallmeyer are both trying to grab Ciresi’s committed delegates, and Franken definitely does not have it sewn up yet. However, all said the endorsement would go to Franken with relative ease.

Expect little to change for Team Franken. Staffer Andy Barr said last night via e-mail that “our campaign is still about all the same things it’s always been about — working hard to build a progressive coalition that will not only win the DFL endorsement and beat (Republican) Norm Coleman, but truly and fundamentally change our government and our country.” Still a long road to June and November.

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