Franken rallies supporters at Capitol

Sen.-elect Al Franken
Sen.-elect Al Franken at his rally on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol on July 1, 2009.
MPR Photo/Nate Minor

Sen.-elect Al Franken addressed an energized crowd of several hundred supporters on the front lawn of the State Capitol Wednesday afternoon, at a long-awaited victory rally.

Some supporters carried old Franken campaign signs and wore labor union t-shirts. Others in the crowd chanted "Go Al," and "We love you, Al," as Franken approached the podium.

"Well, it was close," Franken said at the start of his remarks. "But we won."

It took nearly eight months after voters cast ballots for the Minnesota Supreme Court to declare Franken the victor over Republican Norm Coleman, who on Tuesday conceded defeat.

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During the 10-minute speech, Franken thanked a long list of supporters, campaign workers and his fellow members on the Minnesota congressional delegation.

His wife Franni stood by his side, as well as Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Betty McCallum and Rep. Keith Ellison.

"To my brothers and sisters in labor, thank you for your support and your hard work," said Franken, adding that he is a member of four labor unions. "I know how important unions are to families. Franni and I would not have had health care for the last three years if I hadn't been a member of a union."

Franken went on to thank his army of volunteers, who for months knocked on doors, marched in a parades and contributed money.

He also paid homage to former Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash in 2002.

"Paul said that politics is about improving folks' lives," Franken said. "When you win an election, what you really win is a chance to go to work for the working families who need a voice in Minnesota."

He ended his address by asking Minnesotans to keep working for candidates and causes that exemplify the values of his campaign.

"Keep holding your leaders accountable, myself included," he said.