GOP senators step up to help Coleman prep for '08by Fred Frommer, Associated Press
Washington — (AP) While Democratic candidate Al Franken turned to fellow entertainers to raise money for his Senate campaign, Sen. Norm Coleman got help from fellow Republicans, receiving donations from more than a dozen leadership political action committees run by GOP senators.
Coleman's latest campaign finance report, which covers activity through March 31, shows that about half of the leadership PAC donations were for the maximum $10,000, including those from the minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and longtime Sens. Ted Stevens of Alaska and Thad Cochran of Mississippi.
Politicians use leadership PACs to finance their political travel and make donations to other candidates.
Several business PACs also contributed the maximum $10,000 to Coleman, including those for Eli Lilly & Co., International Paper, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and U.S. Bancorp.
In all, the Minnesota senator raised about $470,000 from PACs in the first quarter of the year, far eclipsing Franken, who raised less than $20,000 from PACs.
Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" star, received contributions from scores of actors, writers, producers and others from the entertainment industry, helping him out-raise Coleman in individual donations. But overall, Coleman out-raised Franken, $1.53 million to $1.35 million.
Steven Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., said that Republicans know Coleman's fate in next year's election is key to helping the party win back control of the Senate.
"This is circle-the-wagons time for Republican senators," he said. "It's an adverse political environment, they have to take care of people who are particularly under electoral threat. Norm Coleman's in that group."
Schier added that as an incumbent senator, Coleman is well-positioned to raise money from PACs, which develop access to lawmakers.
"Al Franken has never run for office before, so he is in the process of trying to create relationships that will produce campaign contributions down the road," he added. "Being in the entertainment business, Al Franken has basically developed a big social network, and individuals in that network are giving him substantial money."
But Franken wasn't the only candidate to raise money from entertainers. Coleman picked up $1,000 from actress Jamie Gertz.