Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

With Franken’s Departure, An End To Four Decades Of Jewish Minnesota Senators

Sen. Al Franken’s upcoming resignation marks the end of an era: It will be the end of a nearly 40-year streak of Jews representing Minnesota in the U.S. Senate.

First came Rudy Boschwitz, a Jewish Republican who won the 1978 election. He kept his seat in 1984 but lost it in 1990 to Democrat Paul Wellstone, who was also Jewish. The rivals met again for a rematch in 1996, and Wellstone won again.

Wellstone was killed in a plane crash in 2002, days before the elections, and the seat was won by Republican Norm Coleman (who is not only Jewish, but later went on to chair the Republican Jewish Coalition).

Six years later, Coleman faced a tough r-eelection bid. After a lengthy recount and legal challenge, he lost to Franken, who often mentioned his Judaism in his comedy routines. Franken won re-election in 2014. Last month, after a string of revelations about his sexual misconduct, he announced his intention to resign.

Franken is set to depart on January 2 and will be replaced by Tina Smith, Minnesota’s lieutenant governor. Smith is not Jewish.

A chain of almost four decades has been broken.

The longest streak of Jewish Senate representation now belongs to California: Thanks to the long tenure of Dianne Feinstein, a member of the tribe has been representing the Golden State since 1992.

Contact Nathan Guttman at [email protected]

Engage

  • Events

    Haart to Haart

    Virtual

    Dec 7, 2022

    7 pm ET · 

    A conversation with Julia Haart and her son Shlomo, stars of Netflix's 'My Unorthodox Life,' about the new season and much more.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.