Attorney will challenge Franken in DFL primary

Priscilla Lord Faris
Attorney Priscilla Lord Faris is running against Al Franken for the DFL nomination in this year's Senate race.
Photo from Priscilla Faris

(AP) - Democratic Senate candidate Al Franken will face a primary opponent, an attorney from a well-known family in Minnesota legal circles.

Priscilla Lord Faris said she will file paperwork to run in the September primary before Tuesday's deadline.

Lord Faris is the daughter of retired federal judge Miles Lord, who remains active in DFL politics. She is managing partner of a personal injury law firm.

"I'm just an average woman who feels passionate about our country and our government."

Lord Faris said she and her relatives have donated money to Franken, the former "Saturday Night Live" comedian who won the Democratic endorsement, but she isn't convinced that he can take the seat away from incumbent Republican Norm Coleman.

She said a primary campaign will sharpen the Democrats and give Coleman a tougher challenge in November.

"I feel like we need a change in Minnesota in our senator, and I'm not sure that our endorsed candidate is going to be able to do it," Lord Faris told The Associated Press on Monday. "So I want to give it a very good, strong Minnesota try."

Franken spokesman Andy Barr said the campaign would have no comment until Lord Faris files to run.

Minnesota's Senate race is already one of the highest-profile in the country, with the possibility of former professional wrestler and ex-Gov. Jesse Ventura livening it up even more as a third-party candidate. There will now be four Democrats in the primary, including frequent candidates Dick Franson and Ole Savior.

Republicans have tried to portray Franken as insensitive toward women, leaning on his old satire writings and sketch comedy material.

Al Franken
U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken.
MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik

Lord Faris said she saw polls showing Franken lagging Coleman and doubted that he could make up the gap. She said she will draw on professional and family networks to put together a campaign and expects to have to raise $1 million to $2 million for the primary.

She said her decision to get into the race was delayed by the illness of her brother, former state treasurer Jim Lord, who died last month. Jim Lord served a term in the Minnesota Senate and two terms as state treasurer - an elective position that has since been abolished - from 1975 to 1983.

Her father, Miles Lord, was elected state attorney general in the 1950s and served as a U.S. attorney in the 1960s before being appointed to the federal bench.

Lord Faris, 66, said her only elective experience was being elected to the city council where she lives, in the small St. Paul suburb of Sunfish Lake. But she worked on Hubert H. Humphrey's presidential campaign in 1968 after serving as a summer clerk in his Senate office in 1963.

"I'm just an average woman who feels passionate about our country and our government," she said. "I don't have a lot of money and I certainly haven't had the liberty or the freedom to not work for the last two years, but I still would be an excellent senator."

Lord Faris said she has dealt with issues ranging from foreclosures to medical product injuries and student loans in her law practice. She founded her own practice 15 years ago after working as a real estate executive.

A biography on the firm's Web site says she has also worked on cases involving silicone breast implants and the Fen Phen diet drug.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)