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Franken nets AFSCME backing in Minn. Senate bid

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ST. PAUL (AP) -- Democrat Al Franken has netted a big endorsement in his bid to challenge Republican Sen. Norm Coleman next year.

The political arm of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 5 voted Saturday to back Franken, a comedian turned candidate. The politically potent union also screened Franken's main rival for the Democratic nomination, Minneapolis attorney Mike Ciresi.

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The union represents 43,000 public and nonprofit employees in the state. Its leaders said in a news release that Franken's membership in four entertainment unions and his proven ability to raise money for the campaign put him in a stronger position than Ciresi.

AFSCME said Coleman didn't respond to an invitation to meet with screeners for a possible endorsement.

Other Democrats vying for the nomination are professor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, environmental activist Jim Cohen and frequent candidate Dick Franson.

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