Comedian and radio talk show host Al Franken has decided to run for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, a senior Democratic official from Minnesota said.
Franken told the official, who did not want to be identified because Franken has not made an announcement, that he had decided to run in a recent conversation.
Andy Barr, the political director of Franken's Midwest Values Political Action Committee, declined to comment.
The news was not unexpected. Franken has been calling members of the Minnesota congressional delegation to get their input on a run, and he announced this week that he would be leaving his show on Air America Radio on Feb. 14. He told listeners he would be making a decision on a race soon.
Franken, 55, was born in New York City, like Coleman, but grew up in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis. He was a performer and writer on television's "Saturday Night Live" before writing best-selling books combining humor and politics.
Franken acknowledged on the air Monday that he's getting close to a decision, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported.
"I'm definitely giving it serious consideration, and I plan to make a decision soon and announce that, hopefully not on the same day that Barack Obama makes his decision and announces that," the newspaper quoted Franken as saying.
Franken told his audience his last show, on Feb. 14, will be "sort of a valentine" and held out the possibility that if he's made up his mind on running, he might make the announcement on one of his final shows, the newspaper reported.
In a statement, Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Ron Carey said he was confident Minnesotans "will reject Franken's divisive, scorched-earth attacks." The state Democratic Party declined to comment.
Should he win the Democratic primary in Minnesota, Franken would take on Republican Norm Coleman, a first-term senator who is among the Democrats' top targets. Coleman declined to comment Wednesday.
Franken's PAC raised nearly $1 million last year. Although Franken can't use that money for his Senate campaign, it shows he shouldn't have a problem raising money.
Coleman reported about $1.7 million in his bank account as of Dec. 31.
Franken faces major challenges, said Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota. Besides needing to establish himself as a serious candidate, Franken has staked out left-wing policies that make it questionable whether he can win independent voters, Jacobs said.