MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Senator Al Franken delivered a message of thanks to his supporters and friends after eight years in the Senate on Thursday night.
It was his first public appearance in Minnesota since sexual misconduct allegations were made against him. He announced his plans to resign earlier this month.
His fall came after Los Angeles radio personality Leann Tweeden released a photo of Franken apparently groping her while she was sleeping during a USO tour in 2006. Other allegations surfaced of Franken inappropriately touching women during photo ops.
On Thursday, Franken told the crowd how thankful he was to have grown up middle class in St. Louis Park as he delved into his life story.
“There are a lot of people here that I want to thank, but I have to start with [my wife] Franni,” Franken said. “Politics is a hard job. I don’t know how anyone manages to do it without being married to someone who is so loyal, so selfless, so tough, [or] so caring.”
He grew emotional as he spoke about his wife, saying she was the reason people were willing to hear him out when he first began his career in politics.
“I wasn’t a professional politician--I had never done anything like this before,” Franken said.
The former comedian first won his Senate seat in 2009. He said he was most proud of the work that he was able to do on Minnesotans' behalf. During his term as senator, the former SNL writer and radio host championed issues like net neutrality, aviation advancement and sexual assault prevention.
“I also want to say thank you to my senior Senator Amy Klobuchar,” he said. “I could not have asked for a better mentor in the United States Senate.”
Franken told his supporters and friends that one of the most important lessons he learned as a politician was that politics are about improving people’s lives. He measured the impact he had in politics by the actual progress that he was able to make for actual people.
“I may be leaving the Senate, but I’m not giving up my voice,” Franken said. “We still have a lot of work to do together.”
Franken plans to officially resign on Jan. 2. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will replace him in Senate until a special election will be held in November.