Image: Al Franken
Chip Somodevilla  /  Getty Images
Al Franken, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota, stands on the floor during day one of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.
updated 9/9/2008 2:52:16 PM ET 2008-09-09T18:52:16

After millions of dollars and 19 months pursuing a U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota, comedian Al Franken sought Tuesday to nail down the Democratic nomination in his childhood home.

The former "Saturday Night Live" cast member, author and radio show host came in as the clear favorite in a seven-way primary to determine Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's fall challenger. Coleman also had a primary opponent — an expatriate living in Italy.

Minnesota voters joined those in six other states and the District of Columbia in deciding general election matchups. Nominations for House, Senate and governor are on the line, along with the fate of another TV celebrity: Kevin Powell, a former cast member on MTV's "Real World," who is running for Congress in New York.

Franken's celebrity has both helped and hurt him. His nationwide recognition enabled him to amass an impressive bankroll for a first-time candidate, but archives full of racy comedy material provided ammunition to Republicans and his most visible Democratic rival, attorney Priscilla Lord Faris.

Lord Faris, part of a well-regarded family in state Democratic politics, criticized Franken for "angry and offensive public behavior" and said he would be too easy a target for Coleman and his allies.

Primaries were also scheduled in New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wisconsin, Delaware and Rhode Island.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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